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Chase Young Commanders

Should Commanders Pick Up Chase Young’s 5th-Year Option?

  • Justin Melo
  • February 9, 2023
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The Washington Commanders are still deciding whether or not to execute the fifth-year option on EDGE Chase Young’s rookie contract, according to multiple reports. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Chase Young is currently scheduled to enter the fourth and final season of his rookie deal in 2023. Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew should trigger Young’s fifth-year option, but Washington’s decision remains up in the air.

Young burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2020 while managing to live up to his pre-draft hype. Young recorded 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles en route to winning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Young looked every bit of the elite pass-rusher Washington believed they were getting, but unforeseen difficulties arose in 2021 and 2022 that muddied Young’s future with the franchise.

Young suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 10 of 2021. Prior to suffering the nasty knee injury, Young’s production had significantly tailed off. The former Ohio State standout had recorded just 1.5 sacks in Washington’s opening nine contests. The roadblocks to come would be even worse.

Young’s rehabilitation process was littered with unexpected detours and obstacles. His return-to-play date routinely got pushed back. Young didn’t make his 2022 debut until Week 16. Young, who was understandably rusty given the lengthy layoff, recorded one quarterback hit in three appearances.

The Commanders are now facing their biggest decision regarding Young since they utilized a premium draft selection on his services. Young’s growth and development have been stunted by injury. Executing the fifth-year option would pay Young a fully-guaranteed sum of $17.4 million in 2024, per Spotrac. It’s a sizable commitment, but it’s also a bit of a bargain given the price-tag dominant sack artists are going for, assuming Young returns to form in 2023.

There’s no ignoring the unfortunate setbacks that derailed Young’s development. But Washington’s careful handling of Young’s rehab process indicates the franchise still views him as a difference-maker and face-of-the-franchise-type defender. Young carries the potential to develop into a double-digit sack artist on an annual basis. I believe we’ll see a stronger, uber-productive Young in 2023.

The Commanders could also draw from their own experiences before deciding Young’s fate. The franchise declined an opportunity to sign defensive tackle Daron Payne to a long-term extension ahead of the 2022 campaign. A former first-round pick himself, the Commanders did trigger Payne’s fifth-year option but did not engage in discussions surrounding an extension.

Payne responded with a career-best campaign that saw him establish himself as one of the best interior defenders across football. Payne’s 11.5 sacks set a new personal best. And although Commanders head coach Ron Rivera has publicly commented on how that decision motivated Payne to strive for new heights, we’ll see how the organization feels when Payne demands a long-term extension that approaches or surpasses $20 million annually. Franchise tagging Payne would likely draw criticism from his representation, but does offer an alternative route at a fairly similar cost (approximately $18.9 million).

Locking Young in for the 2024 campaign at a team-friendly amount carries some risk given the events of the previous two seasons, but remains a worthy gamble nonetheless. The Commanders shouldn’t overthink the situation. Mayhew should trigger Chase Young’s fifth-year option this offseason.

Written By

Justin Melo