Commanders defensive end Chase Young returned from his torn ACL to play the last three games of the 2022 season.
Now Washington has a significant decision to make on Young’s contract this spring.
Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters on Wednesday that the organization has not yet come to a consensus on whether or not to exercise Young’s fifth-year option.
Via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, Rivera noted that the club needs to discuss Young’s health and review the edge rusher’s growth and development.
Young was the 2020 AP defensive rookie of the year after the Commanders took him with the No. 2 overall pick. He recorded 7.5 sacks with 10 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries that season.
But he had just 1.5 sacks in nine games before suffering his season-ending knee injury in 2021. He also posted three tackles for loss and four QB hits.
Young had one QB hit over three games in 2022.
If Washington doesn’t pick up Young’s fifth-year option, Rivera said he’s not concerned about the message it would send, in part because of what the club went through with defensive tackle Daron Payne. The 13th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Payne is set to become an unrestricted free agent after he didn’t receive a contract extension before the 2022 season.
“It cost us,” Rivera said, via Jhabvala, of the decision to not extend Payne. “But it cost us in a good way, because the young man played, he did things the right way. He didn’t sit out, he didn’t withhold, he could have done that sit-in during training camp, but he didn’t. And because he didn’t, now we’re in that position where we have to find a way to say, ‘thank you, OK, you’ve earned it.’”
Rivera added that if Washington does not pick up Young’s option, it could be a motivator for the defensive end.
“Most certainly,” Rivera said. “If you look at what Daron did, why wouldn’t you think of it that way? Believe me, that would be my approach, especially looking at what Daron did and the situation he put himself in.”
Payne registered a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2022 — more than doubling his previous career-high in sacks. He also had a career-high 18 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hits.
The Commanders have plenty of time to decide on Young’s option. But it will be a significant choice either way.