Soon after Jonathan Allen signed a four-year, $72 million contract in the offseason, the Washington defensive tackle called the deal a relief. The 26-year-old said he could now focus on football, to just “got out there and do what I’ve always done.”
This season, Allen has done that — and more.
Allen, in the midst of a career season, was named as a Pro Bowl starter Wednesday for the first time since entering the league in 2017. The former first-rounder was one of two Washington players to earn the starting nod — joining guard Brandon Scherff.
The NFL unveiled the rosters Wednesday. The Pro Bowl will take place Feb. 6 in Las Vegas at 3 p.m.
Allen’s Pro Bowl berth was well earned. This season, the interior defensive lineman has posted a career-high 8 ½ sacks, along with 52 tackles. He not only leads the team in sacks, but also in pressures, quarterback hits and tackles for loss. Allen finished second in fan voting for his position in the NFC, but was still voted in on the strength of players and coaches.
Allen has been Washington’s most consistent defender in 2021, with coach Ron Rivera praising the lineman’s steady play. Rivera noted the effectiveness of Allen’s “hump” move at the point of attack, comparing it to the great Reggie White.
Scherff, meanwhile, made the Pro Bowl for the fifth time in seven seasons. Coming off an All-Pro year, Scherff has again been dominant — even as he’s missed time because of injuries and COVID-19. Scherff has appeared in nine of Washington’s 14 games in 2021, but has not allowed a sack, according to Pro Football Focus.
Five other Washington players, meanwhile, were named as Pro Bowl alternates: Punter Tress Way (second alternate), long snapper Camaron Cheeseman (third alternate), running back Antonio Gibson (fourth alternate), kick returner DeAndre Carter (fourth alternate) and wide receiver Terry McLaurin (fifth alternate).
Those five would make the Pro Bowl in the event depending on how many players at their position drop out. McLaurin, for instance, would make it if the four NFC receivers ahead of him declined to play in the game. Players often withdraw for a myriad of reasons — from their team making the Super Bowl to injury to wanting to preserve their bodies.
Carter and Cheeseman led their positions in the NFC among fan voting, but were named alternates. Fans only accounted for one-third of the overall vote, with coaches and players accounting for the other two-thirds.
Carter, signed in the offseason, has been an excellent returner as the wide receiver is second in the league in kickoff yards with 814. He gathered 111,471 fan votes to be the NFC’s return specialist.
Cheeseman, on the other hand, earned 72,416 fan votes. Washington traded up for Cheeseman, a long snapper out of Michigan, in the sixth round during this year’s draft.
Washington’s two starters for the Pro Bowl matches its total from last year, when Scherff and defensive end Chase Young were named to the roster. The Pro Bowl was not actually held because of the coronavirus pandemic.