Allen, a Stone Bridge High graduate and former Alabama standout, will play the 2021 season on his fifth-year contract option, worth $10 million in salary. Starting in 2022, his average pay will jump to $18 million per year, which currently ranks as the fifth-highest among NFL interior defensive linemen, according to salary website overthecap.com.
The contract sends a clear message that Washington views Allen as an important part of its future. He is the first player since Ryan Kerrigan to be drafted by Washington in the first round and get a second contract with the team. (Kerrigan, who was drafted in 2011, played 10 seasons for Washington before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in May.)
When news broke about his new contract, Allen tweeted, “Washington for life!”
The 17th pick in 2017, Allen has totaled 17 sacks and 45 quarterback hits in his career, joining Preston Smith, Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo as the only Washington players to reach those marks in their first four seasons. Although his rookie season was cut short because of a Lisfranc injury in his foot, he started all but one game over the past three years.
With Jack Del Rio as coordinator, Washington’s defense jumped from near the bottom of most major categories to rank second in total yards (304.6) and passing yards (191.8) allowed per game last season. It finished fifth in scoring (20.6 points allowed) and sixth in both sacks (47) and opponent third-down percentage (37.5 percent).
Allen, 26, was voted a team captain and nominated for the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award in recognition of his charitable efforts with Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a D.C. organization that provides shelter for homeless youths.
Coach Ron Rivera has lauded Allen for not just his production and leadership on defense but also his priorities off the field. Since his hire in 2020, Rivera has spoken often of finding the “right fit” with players. Allen, it seemed, fit the mold — with his play, work ethic and respected leadership.
“On the field, you see a guy that competes and gives it all he has and does a nice job with his leadership, you really do,” Rivera said in December, when Allen was selected as the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year. “He’s learned, he’s grown within our scheme and is playing some good football right now for us. Off the field, I know he has a passion for the military like I do because he grew up in the military. He understands how important it is to give back. That’s the thing that I really appreciate.”
Allen grew up in Ashburn, starred at Stone Bridge some five miles from Washington’s training facility and is now surrounded by family in Northern Virginia. He said in recent months that his hope was to stay with the team for the long term, and to land a new contract before the start of training camp.
The team revamped its front office at the start of the new year, then shifted focus to free agency and the draft before contract talks for Allen began in earnest, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The sides showed a mutual resolve to get a deal done and pulled it together in a matter of weeks.
“This is my home,” Allen said in June. “This is where I want to be.”
His new deal, which runs through 2025, gives Washington the opportunity to keep its starting defensive line intact for at least two more years. In April, the team exercised the fifth-year contract option on defensive tackle Daron Payne, keeping him under contract through the 2022 season. The team will have to decide next year whether it will exercise the fifth-year option for defensive end Montez Sweat, and the following year it will have to make the same decision for fellow defensive end Chase Young, the league’s 2020 defensive rookie of the year.
“I’m excited to have some stability in this organization,” Allen said in June. “I feel like in the three previous years, it was always such big changes between years, and this year, we have the same group of guys coming back. We have good leadership, we have a great group of guys, we have a good young group, we have good coaches, good everything. I’m excited about the opportunity we have for ourselves, but we got to go out there and do it.”