Chase Young: Fifth-Year Option Guy
Chase Young had arrived – or so we thought. Now, the Chase Young fifth-year option has arrived instead.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. Players like Chase always get paid early.
So, how did we go from DROY to Chase Young’s fifth year option being exercised? Let’s go back in time a bit.
Young had been a next-level, can’t miss phenom at every turn of his football life, from the playgrounds in the shadows of FedEx Field, to becoming an all-world pass rusher at Ohio State University. When the 2020 NFL Draft arrived on the ever-revolving NFL calendar, dreams of greatness flowed in the minds of DC area fans like fine wine at a society wedding when Washington selected him at #2 overall.
However, something happened along the road to Bosa Town.
First Bump in the Road
Chase brushed off the offseason activities with his teammates after his rookie season, instead choosing to focus on marketing and brand promotion. He made no apologies for this.
“I was making money baby,” Young said. “Gotta make the money. None of y’all would’ve ducked the money. At the end of the day, it’s a job.”
True, but when a team drafts you #2 overall, that job pays money too – a lot of money as it turns out. The team expects commitment at that salary. They are relying on you, because you’re the new face of the franchise. And winning, coupled with production, has a way of getting a player paid better than anything else they might try to do.
Unsurprisingly, Chase Young’s production dropped like a cinderblock in a hot tub.
The Tape Doesn’t Lie: Chase Young Was Invisible in 2021
He scoffed at the notion that his absence at offseason activities – voluntary though they were – was related to his on-field failure in 2021. Yet, the film and the stats were both ugly. No-name offensive linemen were handling #99 with ease, knocking his face in the dirt with rookie moves.
Every week was the same. Where were the dynamic pass rush moves and counter moves? Where was the Myles Garrett-esque bend?
It wasn’t that he was simply failing to meet expectations; Chase Young was flailing to a zero-sack statline through the first five games; plays were not finished; hustle was not always shown; urgency was not always present.
He simply looked unprepared. Teams stopped double teaming him, because they didn’t need to. What the hell happened to the ascent to greatness?
When Young suffered a torn ACL in the ninth game of the 2021 season, it felt like a bitter, apropos ending to a lost campaign. The road to recovery was going to be long and grueling.
And the chatter began almost before the surgery did: would Chase Young be the same player when he returned?
Moreover, when we say ‘same player’, does that mean the Rookie of Year sensation, or the sophomore slump guy? Questions abounded; answers were running scared.
Commanders Pick Up Chase Young’s Fifth Year Option
As the season approaches, Chase knows that he needs to make a statement. The dreaded “M words” – maturity and motivation – are popping up in quotes from coaches and articles from beat reporters about his performance. At a press conference two weeks ago, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera specifically mentioned motivation when explaining why the front office was leaning towards picking up Chase Young’s fifth year option.
Normally, a player that plays up to expectations will be given a long-term contract after three or four years. Terry McLaurin, Jonathan Allen, and Daron Payne all set perfect examples on how it works. Everyone assumed Chase Young was headed in the same direction.
‘Maturity’ is a loaded buzzword in the NFL; sometimes it implies that a players has got his own agenda, his own brand, his own image, his own social media world, and that’s where too much of his focus lies.
Other times, it means there’s something unhealthy off the field that is distracting a player’s on-field performance. It could be a bad habit that nudges out football as a priority, or a love for the club scene, or really any ego-driven desire that causes conflict with professional success on the NFL level. First round draft picks are held to a higher standard.
However, nothing specific along those lines has ever been linked to Chase Young. Other players clearly handle their off-field business without it affecting their on-field performance. It’s ultimately a bit of a mystery, then, at least from the fan’s perspective, as to why his performance has been so disappointing.
The talent is there. The size mismatch is still there. The ability has been demonstrated. Whatever is holding him back, fans hope that Chase identifies it and sacks the shit out of it.
Chase Young: What Now?
When Young returned in 2022 – albeit for only 112 snaps – Commanders‘ coaches had to be at least a little bit pleased at what they saw. Again, the sacks did not arrive in bunches, or at all for that matter. But Young was regularly penetrating into the offensive backfield, and made plays in the run game and on screen passes that showed he had put in plenty of film study.
At this point, assuming the commanders don’t trade Young, there is nothing yet to do to wait and see, Has the maturity arrived? If so, this will be a great year to watch the defense. If not, it’s sadly time find a replacement.