Commanders commit to future amid Chase Young, Montez Sweat trades

Chase Young and Montez Sweat were both taken in the first round by the Washington Commanders. All good things must end, however, as the pass-rushing duo was sent packing ahead of the Oct. 31 trade deadline.
Sep 12, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) and
Sep 12, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) and / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders have been rumored to trade one of their two star pass rushers before the Oct. 31 trade deadline. That speculation finally came to fruition on Tuesday afternoon, but to the surprise of many, both Chase Young and Montez Sweat were sent packing.

Sweat, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, will suit up for the Chicago Bears the next time he hits the gridiron. The 27-year-old is an impending free agent, but after seeing Bears general manager Ryan Poles send an early second-rounder to Washington, it’s fair to assume a contract extension will soon follow.

Montez Sweat Fetches A Second-Round Pick, While Chase Young Nets A Third-Rounder

As for Young, the former No. 2 overall selection joins a legitimate Super Bowl contender, the San Francisco 49ers. In return, the Niners sent a third-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. On the surface, the deal looks like a steal for San Francisco. And well, that’s because it is. Still, the trade doesn’t come without risk, as Young has dealt with a litany of injuries in his career.

The Ohio State alum is also a free agent this coming offseason, and his intentions of testing the market undoubtedly sunk any trade value. Fetching a late Day 2 pick for the 24-year-old is underwhelming, but if the new ownership group has no interest in a contract extension, cutting bait at least makes some sense.

All in all, it was a mixed bag at the trade deadline for the Commanders. On one hand, the team now has multiple second and third-round picks at the draft next Spring. The front office will also have droves of money to shell out on the free agent market, giving the fan base a glimmer of hope that this represents a retool rather than a rebuild.

On the other hand, Washington is now without a true pass-rushing presence off the edge. And in the 2024 NFL Draft, the depth at that position is lacking overall. This move forces the franchise into selecting one of the top-end pass rushers early on. Otherwise, they will risk any chance of fielding a competent defense in 2024.

Is The Ron Rivera Era Coming To An End With The Washington Commanders?

Head coach Ron Rivera reportedly lobbied against trading either pass rusher, as did a majority of his staff. However, according to those in the know, the ownership group made the final decision to recoup assets and build toward a brighter future without so many lofty investments on the front seven.

Rivera’s supposed reluctance to make a move indicates that he and the front office are likely on different pages. The expectation for many is the Commanders moving on in the offseason and relieving “Riverboat Ron” from his perch. The potential uncertainty at head coach makes for a difficult projection in terms of the team’s offseason approach.

If push comes to shove and a new regime takes the reins, will it believe in quarterback Sam Howell as the leader of the organization? Will they scour the free-agent market for a potential replacement? Maybe a trade up the draft board for a high-upside signal-caller would be priority No. 1?

Retool Or Rebuild? That Is The Question

The two trades on Tuesday have been framed as a long-term play, allowing whoever is calling the shots next year to have an ample amount of salary cap and draft capital at their disposal. The hope is Sam Howell shows more development as a passer, and the Commanders can add instant contributors with the picks acquired from Montez Sweat and Chase Young.

It’s always a bold move to trade one of your best players on the roster; doubling down and trading two of them is even more bold. We’ll see what new owner Josh Harris has in store for the passionate Washington fan base.

If nothing else, Commanders fans — and NFL fans — can rejoice that Daniel Snyder is no longer around. Nothing can be worse than his reign of terror. Right?