Commanders must decide what to do with Chase Young and Montez Sweat
When was the last time a defensive end for the team now called the Washington Commanders had a double-digit sack season? I’ll give you a hint: the guy who did it is no longer on the roster, though he is employed by the franchise.
That tells you right off the bat that neither Montez Sweat nor Chase Young has ever had 10 sacks or more in a season. This is not how it was supposed to go.
The two first-rounders – playing alongside two first-round defensive tackles – were supposed to wreak havoc in opponents’ backfields. They were supposed to be competing against each other to see which one could get to 20 sacks in a season.
Injuries have derailed Young. Sweat has been very good, but last year, defensive tackle Daron Payne had more sacks.
So the Commanders have some big decisions ahead. It was always apparent that they would not be able to retain all four first-round defensive linemen beyond their rookie deals. They have now extended the two tackles, and would clearly like to extend one of the ends.
In the early Dan Snyder years, it would have been obvious. Young was the higher pick. He had cooler hair. He would have been extended even though Sweat has been more productive and has stayed healthier.
When the Commanders declined the fifth-year option on Young’s rookie deal, it put both pass-rushers on the same timeline and fueled speculation that one of them – most likely the No. 2 pick – could be on the trading block.
No fan wants to acknowledge this, but there is a chance that neither player is on the Commanders in 2024. Fortunately, besides Kamren Curl and possibly Antonio Gibson, Washington is not faced with any other major contract renewals in the upcoming season.
If Curtis Samuel has a big year, that could complicate matters. But I don’t really see him staying after 2023 unless it is at a team-friendly price.
The Commanders do have to start making decisions about the 2021 NFL Draft class in the upcoming year. Unless they have breakout seasons in 2023, players like Jamin Davis, Sam Cosmi, Benjamin St-Juste, John Bates, and Darrick Forrest should not be in line for major deals. But this is the young core of the roster and you don’t want to see them leave en masse.
Figuring out how to handle the two prize defensive linemen is the first step. And as much as anything else on the Josh Harris group's list, this will require major input from the owner.
BTW – the last defensive end with double-digit sacks was current coach Ryan Kerrigan, back in 2018, before anyone had ever heard of a Washington Commander.