Commanders' draft steal reignites league speculation over Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Peters was not in a position to refuse any surprising gifts during the 2024 NFL Draft. The Washington Commanders were one of the league's worst teams last season for a reason. They had to find talent capable of being potential cornerstone pieces. That was the primary objective above all else after those in power took quarterback Jayden Daniels at No. 2 overall.

When defensive lineman Johnny Newton fell out of the first round and into their laps, it was something Petters couldn't pass up. It probably wasn't high on his list of priorities - especially considering their intent to trade up for an offensive tackle - but sometimes the board works in your favor.

Newton was a first-round talent who fell through the cracks thanks in no small part to the Jones fracture he suffered shortly before the pre-draft process. It was nothing too concerning for the Commanders, who were satisfied with his medical assessments enough to end his dramatic slide.

Commanders have an upcoming Jonathan Allen dilemma

The former Illinois star should play a role immediately. Dan Quinn will know how to maximize his skill set within his creative defensive scheme. Newton is a ferocious force - especially in obvious pass-rushing situations - but whether he can unseat Washington's starting defensive tackle tandem is another matter.

While the benefits of drafting Newton are obvious, it's reignited speculation around the league about what the future might hold for Jonathan Allen. The Pro Bowler is heading into the penultimate year of his deal and was said to be contemplating an early exit before the new regime changed the franchise's course - something that could become prevalent once again following their move at No. 36 overall in the draft.

This was a subject brought up by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. The senior insider stated that the Commanders have refused to legitimately consider any trade possibilities up to now. However, those around the NFL predict them to either work out a contract extension or become more receptive to offers when push comes to shove.

"[Johnny] Newton has first-round ability but was recovering from a Jones fracture of his right foot during the pre-draft process. Having three talented tackles is hardly a bad thing, but a few league execs are wondering if Washington will ever consider offers for Allen, who is due $15.4 million this year and $16.5 million next, below market for high-end tackles. The people I've talked to believe Washington will need to either rework his contract eventually or decide whether it will entertain trade interest, which it has rebuffed in the past. But, for now, head coach Dan Quinn can concoct a plan to get all three defensive tackles on the field."

Peters has emphatically stated that Allen remains a core part of the team's plans in 2024. What comes after that is up for debate and will likely be predicated on how the former first-round pick out of Alabama bounces back next season.

Allen is under contract until 2026 but has no more guaranteed salary on his deal. His combined salary cap hits over the next two years stands at $44.4 million. Trading him next spring comes with $17 million in savings and $6 million in dead money.

Interest should be high in Allen if the Commanders make him available. This will be tied to his potential improvements under Quinn and defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. coupled with Newton's long-term outlook. But whatever decision Peters ends up making, it'll be in the franchise's best interests.

Time will tell…