The Washington Commanders are a fascinating bunch to follow.
Particularly when it comes to team building.
Washington is rostering Jonathan Allen ($21.4M cap number in 2023) and Daron Payne ($21.6M cap number starting in 2024) as high-price defensive linemen with growing cap numbers in the years to come. The Commanders also have Montez Sweat and Chase Young with deals that expire after the end of the 2023 season. It is an embarrassment of riches, to be sure. But it doesn’t seem feasible to pay all of the defensive linemen. In other words, if your favorite team needs defensive line help, there is a good chance it is monitoring the Commanders’ situation because there is potential for some serious logjam.
And, perhaps, with that in mind, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has this to say about Washington’s situation (bold emphasis mine):
Teams coming out of the spring thinking they need more help may make trade calls on Young (it seems unlikely the Washington brass would move him ahead of a must-win year, but I know they’d be open to listening).
All of a sudden I find myself looking at the Chicago Bears, the glaring void they need to fill at defensive end, and the possibility of swinging a trade with the Washington Commanders.
Making an obvious connection is far too easy for us. The Bears should be looking at what the Commanders have with an eye on possibly cutting a deal. And the Commanders should entertain the idea of shopping their surplus of defensive line talent to help build out their roster elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean a deal will come together easy peasy. Nevertheless, it sounds like Washington is *NOT* opposed to hearing out teams with offers. Heck, they probably have been listening for a while. It’s not as if this glut of defensive line talent just came to light today. Washington could easily have floated this publicly in an attempt to nudge teams toward making stronger offers.
On the surface, Young is an ideal target for this Bears regime. The second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Young made the Pro Bowl and won the AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in his first year in the pros. But since then, Young has just 1.5 sacks in 12 games. An ACL and patellar tendon tear in 2021 wrecked his second season. Fast forward to 2022, Young began the year on the physically unable to perform list, was out til November, and didn’t get things going until Week 16. It’s been disappointing lately, but there is still so much untapped potential in the 24-year-old Young’s game. With that being said, I wonder what it would look like if he did it as a member of the Bears. But only at the right price.
Ultimately, that’s where the rub is when it comes to a Young hypothetical. What is the cost of doing business? A 2024 first-round pick feels too rich for my liking. And because we just saw Za’Darius Smith go from the Vikings to the Browns for pennies on the dollar, it is tough to envision how a team can justify coughing up a first-rounder right now. Trading for Young would be a sizable risk. One I’m not sure the Bears are willing to take right now. Not with that recent injury history. And certainly not with a potentially high cost of making a trade. GM Ryan Poles didn’t clean house, tear it down, and start his rebuilding process only to take a high-risk gamble on a player who played just three games last year.
Also, there are still free agents available. Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney, Justin Houston, and Yannick Ngakoue are among the defensive ends who can be brought in for just cash. And so long as those defensive playmakers are on the open market, Washington’s trade leverage has limitations.
Don’t get me wrong. This front office should be willing to roll the dice every once in a while. But there is a time and place for it — and I’m not sure this is it. Nevertheless, I’m willing to follow this through. Maybe Young proves to be healthy and explosive again. Perhaps the price tag drops into a more affordable range. In the end, the Bears don’t need to make a trade right now. Although, a deal would make what has already been a fun offseason that much more enjoyable.