The Washington Commanders have decided not to exercise the fifth-year option on defensive lineman Chase Young’s contract, as reported by multiple sources. This decision follows Young’s struggles to regain his rookie season form, during which he won the Associated Press’ Defensive Rookie of the Year award after racking up 7.5 sacks.
Young’s NFL journey took a turn for the worse when he suffered an ACL tear in his right knee during Week 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021. The injury caused him to miss the remainder of the 2021 NFL season and limited his participation in the 2022 season to just three games. Since his standout rookie season, Young has recorded only 1.5 sacks in 12 total games.
Despite the Commanders’ decision, this does not necessarily mean the end of Young’s time with the team. The 24-year-old still has one season left on his rookie contract, and if he excels during the 2023 NFL season, he could secure a lucrative extension with Washington. There is precedent for the Commanders paying players in the middle of a contract year, as they did with Daron Payne, who recorded 11.5 sacks in his fifth year.
However, the declined fifth-year option puts the pressure on Young to perform exceptionally well to prove his worth to the Commanders. If he manages to do so, he might be better off exploring the free-agent market, where he could find himself in high demand if he can rediscover his rookie form.
Before his knee injury, Young was a standout player at Ohio State, where he recorded 69 tackles and 30.5 sacks over three seasons. He won the Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy during his junior season.
Young’s recent partnership with New Balance marks the first time an American football player has signed with the athleticwear company. In collaboration with Rich Paul’s Klutch Athletics, Young will help design New Balance’s first football cleat.
As the Commanders look to the future, they hold the No. 16 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, which kicks off in Kansas City. Their defensive line strategy will need reevaluation in light of Young’s uncertain future with the team and potential departures of other key players in the coming years.