Commanders Trade Chase Young to the 49ers, Signal Change in Franchise Direction
By John Keim and Nick Wagoner | Oct 31, 2023, 02:52 PM ET
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The Washington Commanders shocked the NFL world on Tuesday by trading star defensive end Chase Young to the San Francisco 49ers for a third-round pick, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This unexpected move comes after the Commanders traded fellow defensive end Montez Sweat to the Chicago Bears earlier in the day, signaling a change in direction for the franchise.
Young, who would have become a free agent after the season, had his fifth-year option declined by Washington in the offseason. This move not only saves the team $17.452 million against the 2024 salary cap but also reflects concerns over Young’s past injury issues, particularly his right knee.
With the 49ers in need of help for their struggling pass rush, the trade for Young presents a potential solution at a reasonable price. Although his career has been marred by injuries, Young has shown immense talent, with five sacks and 16 incompletions created in just seven games this season.
By acquiring Young, the 49ers add him to a defensive line that already features top-tier talent, including Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell, Arik Armstead, and Javon Kinlaw. The team hopes that Young can provide the outside pass rush support needed to bolster their defense.
Meanwhile, Washington’s decision to trade Young and Sweat allows them to shift their focus to quarterback Sam Howell and invest in other areas of need. Despite having a highly priced defensive line, the Commanders’ defense has been lackluster, ranking near the bottom in points allowed and yards per game.
Though the Commanders have found success in terms of sacks, ranking sixth in the league, their overall pass rush win rate is lacking. Among their defensive linemen, Young stands out as a top performer in this area. The team hopes that by trading away Young and Sweat, they can address their defensive shortcomings.
Young’s departure from Washington is significant, considering he was their second overall pick in the 2020 draft. The team chose to select Young over quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, as they had previously drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round the year before.
Young made an immediate impact as a rookie, recording 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. However, his production declined in 2021 due to injuries, particularly a knee injury that required surgery. Young’s return to the field was delayed, as he had to regain confidence in his knee.
With this unexpected trade, both the Commanders and the 49ers are looking to shake things up and improve their respective teams. Only time will tell if the move pays off for both franchises.
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