All was well in Washington for Chase Young following his first season.
Young posted 7.5 sacks, helped his team sneak into the postseason, earned a Pro Bowl nod and was voted Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Injuries have largely stolen Young's last two seasons, though, and subsequently made his 2023 campaign a pivotal one after the Commanders declined to pick up his fifth-year option.
Young understands the decision, according to Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, who is expecting it to inspire his defensive end for the season ahead.
"From what I've gotten in our text messages and conversations just, hey, he gets it," Rivera said Wednesday, via team transcript. "He understands, and he's gonna go out, and I really believe he's gonna come in and give us everything he's got."
Over the past two seasons, Young's played in just 12 of a possible 34 games after his 2021 campaign was cut short by an ACL tear. With Young now facing a contract year and a critical point in his still-young career, Rivera is hoping the situation brings out the best in the former DROY.
"(Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio) came out and said, you know, this is about production-based business and you have to produce," Rivera said. "If you wanna look at a great example, that's what Daron (Payne) did. You know, our intent is to keep our guys. Guys that produce for us, we want them to be around, want them to be part of what we're doing, so that's pretty much just been the message and I believe he's adapted to it very nicely and he's working hard. I'll be excited to see him when he has to be here. So, again, he's been on top of things."
Rivera has used the Payne comparison on multiple occasions, but one massive difference is that Payne's fifth-year option was picked up. He wasn't offered an extension and proceeded to wreak havoc in 2022, which led to a lucrative extension. Young, however, is a former No. 2 overall pick who didn't get his option picked up. Thus, injuries or not, productivity needs to come and results need to be had.
So far, Rivera's hopes for Young haven't gotten off to the best start possible.
Young and fellow pass rusher Montez Sweat were not at organized team activities earlier this week.
"You always would like to have all your guys here, but again, it's volunteering," Rivera said. "We understand that and the nice thing though is I've been in contact with them. They're working out. They're progressing, getting themselves ready to go. When it all comes down to it, we'll see 'em when they have to be here."
For Young and the Commanders, his promising rookie year of 2020 no doubt feels like a long time ago. The 2023 campaign and Young's ability to rise to the challenge are likely to decide just how much time he has ahead with the franchise that drafted him.