The Chicago Bears could have a new trade opportunity opening up after the Washington Commanders made a key decision about the future of former No. 2 overall pick and 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young.
According to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, the Commanders have declined to pick up Young’s fifth-year option for the 2024 season, meaning that he will play out the final year of his rookie contract and become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. The decision comes after Young was only able to play in three games in 2022 following a significant knee injury that he had suffered in Week 10 of the 2021 season.
If Bears general manager Ryan Poles is more comfortable taking a risk on Young, Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay believes Chicago could make a strong offer of two second-round picks — Nos. 53 and 61 — to add the 2020 Pro Bowl edge rusher to their line.
“Rather than take the risk on Young returning to full strength, the club should accept a second-rounder from a team with more financial flexibility — such as the Chicago Bears, who desperately need help on the edge after finishing dead-last in sacks this past season — to both recoup some value on the investment and clear cap space,” NAME wrote.
Commanders Could Have Two DEs on Trade Block
The Commanders might be content to give Young one more season to prove himself and see if he can bounce back to his former glory, but it is important to note that they have already made significant investments in their defensive line. They signed long-term extensions with both Jonathan Allen (four years, $72 million) and Daron Payne (four years, $90 million) over the past two offseasons and also have fellow edge rusher Montez Sweat already set to play out the 2023 season on a fifth-year option.
If the Commanders believe there isn’t enough money to go around for both Sweat and Young, ESPN’s Dan Graziano believes a trade could be the preferred option for them.
“Another team to watch for potential trades is the Washington Commanders,” Graziano wrote about the pre-draft buzz on April 26. “Edge rusher Montez Sweat is heading into his fifth-year option season and has yet to have his contract extended beyond 2023. Fellow edge rusher Chase Young will not have his fifth-year option for 2024 exercised, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday. The decision to not pick up Young’s option leaves Washington with two possible free agent defensive ends next offseason, and trading one of them could be the answer.”
Chase Young Trade Price Could Be Too Rich for Bears
There’s no denying that a healthy Young would be a massive boost for a Bears defense that registered a league-low 20 sacks in 2022. He recorded 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries — including one that he scooped and scored — during his breakout 2020 rookie season, earning himself Defensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl honors. He also just turned 24 and has been working in a similar 4-3 defensive scheme that the Bears have under Matt Eberflus.
Two second-round picks for Young, though? That might be too rich for the Bears.
The Bears have quite a few holes to fill in their 2023 roster, and while adding another pass rusher is one of the priorities for this week’s draft, there are expected to be some good options available to them in the back half of the second round. Rather than taking a risk on an injury-troubled player with a high ceiling, the Bears might prefer to invest one — or both — of their second-round selections in the deep edge rusher class.
Now, there is one scenario that might make more sense for the Bears and the Commanders, and it involves the Bears trading down from No. 9 overall in the first round. If the Commanders are motivated to move up for a quarterback on draft day, the Bears could agree to move down to No. 16 overall for a package that includes Young. Poles might need to add a bit more compensation — their first pick of the fourth round, perhaps? — to get Young in the deal, but the Commanders could be open to such a deal if they feel it can help them get a new franchise quarterback and solve a future financial dilemma for their defensive trenches in the process.