Head Coach Ron Rivera has moved on from Washington’s 2019 and 2020 first-round picks, Montez Sweat and Chase Young, respectively. The Commanders acquired a 2024 second-round pick from the Chicago Bears for Sweat and a compensatory 3rd round pick from the San Francisco 49ers for Young. Understanding the current situation at hand, with both edge rushers set to hit free agency in March, Washington needed to capitalize on their value before they risk them leaving for nothing. However, looking at it from a larger perspective, the defense, and specifically the defensive line, has been one of the most disappointing storylines from the Ron Rivera era.
“I told them I don’t want to go through a five-year rebuilding process because quite frankly, I don’t have the patience.” - Ron Rivera during his introductory press conference
While Rivera wanted to avoid a rebuilding situation at all costs when he took the job, four years into Rivera’s head coach tenure, his free agency and draft classes have been underwhelming, and now his first pick as Washington’s head coach did not play out his rookie contract in Washington. Regarding Sweat and Young, the blame does not lie solely on the feet of Rivera, though, the players hold some culpability. Sweat, while healthier and more productive than Young during his tenure, was not a game-changing edge rusher on the field. Young, who came out of college among some of the best pass-rushing prospects that scouts have seen in some time, when healthy, was unable to translate his havoc-wreaking playstyle on the NFL level. Additionally, Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle, reported that Young “was viewed as an undisciplined player who developed bad habits such as deviating from assignments in an effort to make splash plays.”
Both Sweat and Young were off to a good start this season, and according to reports, Washington was interested in keeping Sweat, but Chicago’s offer of a 2nd-round pick was too good to pass up. Ultimately though, the overall productivity (or lack thereof), along with Rivera and his staff’s inability to maximize their talent, helped create the situation that Washington faced over this past week.
Washington is not facing a full “rebuild,” but the decision to move on from two major players on the defense signifies that the turnover in Washington is just beginning.
Listen/Watch the latest Trap or Dive Podcast, where we discuss Washington’s decision to move on from Sweat and Young.
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