By Max Harper
The Commanders aren’t picking up the fifth-year option on defensive end Chase Young, making him a possible free agent after this season.
Washington coach Ron Rivera had said last week that they would announce a decision at the May 2 deadline. Rivera had been noncommittal about Young’s option all offseason. There was no hesitation, for example, when picking up fellow defensive end Montez Sweat’s fifth-year option last spring.
The decision to not pick up Young’s option also leaves Washington with two possible free agent defensive ends next offseason. The Commanders would like to work out an extension with Sweat, one team source said, but if they don’t, he and Young could be free agents after the 2023 season.
Rivera has said they want to gauge Young’s health coming off his 2021 knee injury, and his commitment. Young had not always worked out in Washington during past offseasons. In late January, Rivera mentioned that not picking up the fifth year could perhaps motivate Young, leading to a big season.
The Washington Post first reported the news.
Young suffered a torn right ACL in November 2021, causing him to miss the final seven games. He also ruptured his patellar tendon, causing a longer recovery. Young returned for the final three games of the 2022 season, recording 5 tackles, 1 quarterback hit and no sacks.
Young has received positive updates on his knee this offseason from Dr. James Andrews, who performed his surgery.
Before hurting his knee in 2021, Young posted 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 4 quarterback hits.
Washington selected Young with the second pick in the 2020 draft — Rivera’s first with the organization. Young earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors with 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries — one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also had 12 quarterback hits.
Young would have made $17.25 million under a fifth-year option. If he produces a big year, Washington could always use the franchise tag on him. The 2023 figure for a franchise tag on a defensive end was $19.73 million.