Which Washington Commanders players must step up after the team opted to trade Montez Sweat and Chase Young before the 2023 deadline?
To say the Washington Commanders dropped a bombshell would be a big understatement before the trade deadline. Many thought one of Chase Young or Montez Sweat would be moved given they're out of contract in 2024 and the financial implications of keeping them on board, but to part ways with both was a shocking development in no uncertain terms.
Reports suggest that the Commanders were keen on keeping Sweat before the Chicago Bears came in with an offer they couldn't refuse. The issues surrounding Young came to light after they sent him to the San Francisco 49ers for nothing more than a third-round compensatory pick.
What this means for the Commanders' pass-rush over their remaining nine games has yet to be determined. Opportunity knocks for those lower down the pecking order, while more will also be asked of some established stars in the hope of salvaging some semblance of respectability from the 2023 campaign.
With this in mind, here are four players that must step up after Washington's trade activity before the deadline.
James Smith-Williams - Commanders DE
After shining in a rotational role before the current campaign, James Smith-Williams has seen his snaps diminish through eight games. This is primarily down to Chase Young's return to full health, but that could change now that the former Ohio State phenom has been removed completely from the equation.
One would expect Smith-Williams to get a shot from the starting role moving forward. This represents a huge opportunity for the former seventh-round pick, who has seven sacks, 28 quarterback hits, and 13 tackles for loss during his career involvement with the Washington Commanders up to now.
Whether he can capitalize on this chance remains to be seen.