Blockbuster Trade Pitch Sends ‘X-Factor’ Pass Rusher to Bears

Chase Young Bears PFN Trade

Getty Bears head coach Matt Eberflus.

The window is now open for the Chicago Bears to pull off a trade that would add an “X-factor” pass rusher to their defense for the 2023 season.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the Washington Commanders are now “open to listening” to trade offers for high-profile defensive end Chase Young as they prepare to close out their offseason workouts with this week’s mandatory minicamp.

While speculation about Young’s availability has persisted since the team declined to pick up his fifth-year option for 2024, Breer’s report is the first confirmation that the team is open to potentially moving on from the former No. 2 overall pick this offseason. Should they decide trading Young is the best route forward, Dallas Robinson of Pro Football Network believes the Bears could be his top landing spot in a trade.

“The Bears have two fourth-round picks in the 2024 NFL Draft,” Robinson wrote on June 6. “Could they send one of those picks to Washington on a conditional basis, with the choice upgrading to a third-rounder if Young plays at least 50% of Chicago’s snaps next season? That type of trade could allow the Bears to take a chance on a pedigreed player while retaining draft capital flexibility heading into next offseason.”

Chase Young Could Be ‘X-Factor’ Addition for Bears

Chase Young Bears PFN Trade1

GettyPro Football Focus believes Chase Young can be an ‘X-factor’ in 2023.

Nobody is fooling themselves into believing Young’s career has gone according to plan. Young was an absolute force for the Commanders as a rookie in 2020, racking up 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 40 pressures, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries (one taken for a touchdown) on his way to Defensive Rookie of the Years honors. Since then, however, he has been severely limited due to a torn ACL and patellar tendon in his right knee and has managed to play just 12 games over the past two seasons.

Young has a chance to change the narrative about his career, though, coming into the 2023 season. He is now about 19 months removed from his injuries and subsequent reconstructive surgeries and, according to Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, “looked good” in his return to OTAs earlier this week. If he can complete his comeback and return to his former level of play, Pro Football Focus believes he could be the “X-factor” in 2023 for the Commanders — or another team, if traded before the season.

“Washington curiously declined his fifth-year option, so Young is entering a contract year,” Dalton Wasserman and Jim Wyman of PFF wrote. “He has elite talent, and the Commanders’ success will be carried by their defense. A double-digit sack performance could make them an elite unit — and could line up Young for a big payday.”

The declined fifth-year option isn’t the only motivation for the Commanders to listen to trade offers for Young. They have invested heavily in their defensive line over the past few offseasons, signing lucrative extensions with defensive tackles Jonathan Allen (four years, $72 million) and Daron Payne (four years, $90 million), and also have fellow pass rusher Montez Sweat entering a contract year with Young. The Commanders may only want to pay one of them, especially with an unclear future at quarterback.

Meanwhile, the Bears picked up an additional fourth-round pick in 2024 after trading down with Philadelphia from No. 9 to No. 10 overall in the 2023 draft and have the assets to make a compelling offer. Even if they are forced to add conditions to the trade that would bump up the value given to a third-rounder, it could still be viewed as a steal if they get a bounce-back season from Young and sign him to a long-term extension.

Ex-Bears Scout Argues Against Chase Young Trade

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GettyFormer Bears scout Greg Gabriel doesn’t believe Chase Young fits Ryan Poles’ plan.

The concept of Young-to-Chicago sounds excellent on paper. The Bears would have a shot at adding an elite-caliber player to arguably the weakest position on their roster and could take a massive step forward in their rebuild if it all pans out. One former Bears scout — Greg Gabriel — isn’t sold on the idea of trading for Young, though.

Gabriel recently offered “a scout’s take” for Windy City Gridiron on why he considers the odds of the Bears trading for Young to be “slim.” He emphasized the philosophy that second-year general manager Ryan Poles has embraced in building his roster, which included not overpaying for veterans such as Mike McGlincey and Dre’Mont Jones in 2023 free agency despite having an interest in signing both.

With nobody certain of how Young will bounce back from his knee injuries, Gabriel wonders why “any team in their right mind” would trade for “a big question mark.”

“There are several Bears fans that want the club to go after Washington defensive end Chase Young,” Gabriel wrote for WCG on June 6. “I believe that it is not going to happen. Not today, not tomorrow, or anytime in the near future.”

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