The Washington Football Team made a strong statement for its future, its players and its leadership on Monday by getting a four-year, $72 million contract extension done with defensive tackle Jonathan Allen.
A stout player and key cog on the defense, Allen's stats don't jump off the page. He logged 63 tackles with two sacks last season, but for most defensive linemen not named Aaron Donald, that position isn't about stats.
It's about interior pocket disruption as well as taking on blockers in the run game. The first forces quarterbacks to move their feet and push toward the exterior where in Washington Montez Sweat and Chase Young await. The second allows for linebackers to make downhill tackles, which should improve this season with the arrival of rookie Jamin Davis.
Allen is a good player that Washington drafted and developed. It only made sense to get this deal done.
In some ways it's obvious, but under the previous regime obvious moves didn't always happen.
It bodes well for the front office and coaching staff assembled by the big boss Ron Rivera that, even though it went nearly to the last second, a deal got done. And timing is everything on NFL deals.
Allen gets the advantage of guaranteed generational life-changing money.
And Washington gets a bit of a bargain too.
The headline will say Allen signed a four-year, $72 million deal, which accounts to $18 million a year. The reality, however, is Allen will now play the next five years for $82 million.
He's already under contract this season for one-year at $10 million. That's the fifth-year team option from his rookie contract.
So average that out over the next five seasons and Allen makes about $16 million per season. Looking around the league, that's a Top 10 contract, but barely. That would rank as the ninth-highest average annual salary at his position, just ahead of the Bengals' D.J. Reader and just behind the Steelers' Cameron Heyward.
That's appropriate company for Allen, who while he doesn't have a Pro Bowl season on his resume, is widely considered in the top tier of interior D-linemen around the league.
Consider too that the NFL salary cap is expected to jump in 2022, perhaps as much as 20 percent, and in another offseason Allen's deal will probably rank in the Top 15. In two seasons? Allen might not even be a Top 20 salary at the defensive tackle position.
That's the key in getting deals done before a player gets to free agency. There's value and security for the player in the guaranteed cash, and the team gets a better deal.
Most important, the team gets to avoid the pitfall of the franchise tag.
Washington faces plenty of questions going forward -- starting with: now that Allen is signed, can the team really afford to lock up fellow defensive tackle Daron Payne next year? That's a lot of money for two defensive tackles, especially when players like Terry McLaurin, Montez Sweat and eventually Chase Young are going to need serious cash to stay in Burgundy and Gold.
Ideally, at some point, Washington will need to pay major cash for a franchise QB too.
There's also an overlooked aspect in the Allen news that bodes well for Washington. Real or perceived, Rivera shed most Washington players with ties to the previous administration, especially veterans. The team told Ryan Kerrigan to walk and released Morgan Moses with two years left on his contract. Adrian Peterson got cut at the end of training camp in 2020, and Alex Smith got cut at the beginning of the 2021 league year.
Those moves made sense to varying degrees, but it also became obvious that Rivera wanted new blood.
Well, Allen isn't new blood, but he's good and young. His contract extension, along with the new deal for center Chase Roullier, proves that Rivera isn't just getting rid of everyone that played in Washington before he arrived.
That will help other players look around and know that play well in Washington, buy into the culture, and there could be a pile of cash waiting for you.
For Allen it's a big pile of cash, but the deal works out well for all parties.