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NFL Trade Rumors: Washington Commanders ownership had “a strong hand” in today’s moves

Josh Harris makes his moves

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Washington Commanders Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Update: Team source responds

The Washington Commanders surprised a lot of people today by trading away both of their defensive ends. Most people expected one or the other to get moved, but Washington is cashing in both of their former 1st round picks for a pair of Day 2 draft picks next year. Montez Sweat was traded to the Chicago Bears for a 2nd round pick, and Chase Young was then sent to the San Francisco 49ers for one of their compensatory 3rd round picks next year.

Head Coach Ron Rivera is likely in his final year with Washington, and he had little motivation to move players while he still thought the team, at 3-5, had a chance to make the playoffs, and potentially save his job. The Commanders were sold to an ownership group led by billionaire Josh Harris in late July, and he has been evaluating the team ever since. He has attended every game, but his public influence on the team has been limited to the hiring of a senior analytics executive, and some cosmetic upgrades to the franchise.

Harris made his presence known in a big way today by reportedly overruling the people “in the building” that wanted to keep the pair of defensive linemen. Both players were in the final year of their contracts, and would have entered free agency if Washington didn’t trade, extend, or franchise tag them. This was likely seen as an opportunity to load up with draft picks, and over $90 million in 2024 cap space, for whoever they decide to hire to run their franchise.