Yesterday, the Pro Football Talk website put out a rumor that the Chicago Bears are interested in making a trade with the Washington Commanders. ESPN insider Adam Schefter also posted on X that if Washington loses to Philadelphia today, they could quickly become “sellers” before the Tuesday NFL trade deadline. Schefter is seldom wrong, as his sources are impeccable. Pro Football Talk, on the other hand, has a history of making things up. If you keep track, they are wrong much of the time. In this case, though, they were very specific, so I believe there is some truth behind the rumor.
Both of Washington’s defensive ends are coming out of contract following this season. Since they have recently extended Jonathan Allen and Duron Payne, their two Pro Bowl type defensive tackles with huge deals, Washington can only afford to extend one of Chase Young or Montez Sweat, so it’s a good bet that one will be traded in the next couple of days. The reason is by trading one of the players, they will receive some sort of compensation versus getting nothing if they lose the player in Free Agency.
Chase Young to the Bears has been a rumor since August, though much of those rumors were strictly fan-driven and not by NFL people. Back in August, when these rumors began, I was adamant that I would be against a trade for Young at that time because of his injury situation. I said numerous times that I would not make a deal for Young until I knew that he could play at a high level. In August, that question was not going to be answered as he barely played in the pre-season. I further stated that if there was going to be a trade for Young, it would most likely be at the Trade deadline. By that time, he would have played a number of games, and clubs could see if he was back to his Rookie of the Year form of 2020.
To date this season, Young has played at a very high level. Washington did not play him in the opener because of a stinger, but in the five games since, he has played very well. In those five games, he has recorded 14 total tackles as well as 5.0 sacks. Against the Bears a few weeks ago, he played well and recorded a half-sack. Last week vs the Giants, he got two sacks. Based on his current play, he is on pace to record double-digit sacks for the first time in his career.
Why the concern about his previous injury? To say the least, it was a catastrophic injury, an injury that could be a career-ender for many. During the 2021 season (his second year in the League), he not only tore his ACL but also tore his patellar tendon in the same knee. Just suffering one of those injuries is bad, but trying to come back from a dual injury is difficult, as Chase was to find out.
Young injured his knee in the ninth game of the 2021 season. He did not play again until the final three games of the 2022 season. So, he missed a little more than 13 months of action. In the games that Young played last year, he did not look close to his former self. He had lost speed and explosiveness, but the reality is he just wasn’t fully rehabbed. Young then spent the entire 2023 off-season getting himself ready to play in 2023. He has stated that he felt the best he has felt since the injury.
The rehab and conditioning obviously worked as this year he is looking like he did as a rookie in 2020 when he was the second overall pick in the 2020 Draft. As good as Young has looked, there still must be concern.
My experience in the League has taught me to be very leery about past injuries. The reason is when a player has the kind of injury and surgery that Young had, two things have to be right. Not only does the knee have to be stable from the surgery, but also be arthritic-free. In those types of injuries, arthritic conditions can form in the joint that was injured. Arthritis is not a condition that gets better with treatment. It only gets worse. Many who have had ACL surgery are arthritic-free, but others have minor to moderate arthritis within a couple of years of the repair. That is what the main concern is. MRIs can tell the medical staff if, in fact, there is an arthritic condition in the repaired joint.
It is very possible to play with some minor arthritis in the knee, and several do. What happens is that over time, the condition can get worse, and the player then needs more time off from practice to relieve the wear and tear on the joint. There could come a time when the arthritis could become so severe that the player has to retire. Each player and surgery is different, and it could be years before that happens, if at all.
If the rumors are true and the Bears are to make this trade, they must be assured that the risk from his previous injury is minimal. How do they find out? Well, the easiest way is to get Young’s medical records from Washington. Could that happen before a trade is made? It’s unusual, but yes, the Commanders' decision-makers could very well agree to let the Bears medical staff examine the records, which could include recent MRIs and X-rays.
Hypothetically, when the Bears played at Washington three weeks ago, they could very well have had some of those questions answered. We’ll never know the answer unless the trade is made and the Bears want to tell us.
There is no question that trading for Chase Young could be a very profitable trade for the Bears. He is still very young (24), so the hope would be that the Bears can get five good seasons out of him. The other question is his contractual status. Young is out of contract at the end of this season, and then he becomes a Free Agent. I’m sure the Bears aren’t interested in trading for a half-season rental, so they would have to be assured that they can get a contract extension done with his representatives. Stay tuned; the next few days will prove interesting.
According to someone in the know, Bears did have extensive conversation w/Washington about Young. As of now it’s not going to happen because Bears a don’t have sufficient enough medical information to pull the trigger. Smart on Poles part, can’t make a mistake— Greg Gabriel (@ggabefootball) October 29, 2023