The Washington Commanders entered this season with two of their top pass rushers on the final year of their contracts.
Montez Sweat and Chase Young are exciting young defensive ends who, at one point, were seen as cornerstones of the franchise. However, going into 2023, it was painfully obvious that they wouldn't be keeping both.
This season felt like a competition. Who would outplay the other and get the big contract while the other went off to free agency?
As Washington struggled, a new plan formed. The Commanders could trade one at the deadline and get something in return. They did just that, twice.
On trade deadline day (Tuesday), it was announced before noon that Washington sent Sweat to the Chicago Bears in return for a 2024 second-round draft pick.
Three hours later, the Commanders shipped Young to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2024 third-round compensatory pick.
The return for Sweat was fantastic. It makes you wonder if the Bears believe they can sign him to a long-term extension.
However, Young's return wasn't as great. Could it be his lack of career production? He's having a strong 2023, but maybe it's not enough for teams to believe. Maybe San Francisco felt they wouldn't be re-signing him.
This feels like a soft reset for Washington. These were their only two moves on a quiet deadline day around the league. However, they were two significant moves. Sweat led the team with 6.5 sacks, while Young was second with five.
This is a defense that has constantly underperformed, though. They've come into the last few seasons with the hype of an elite unit. They never seem to live up to it. This season was more of the same.
With how many draft picks had been spent on defense (the entire starting line were first-round picks), it's easy to build up hype but just as easy to be disappointed.
Washington is showing that they don't see the defense as an untouchable force anymore. They add some draft capital and send a statement.
While these are likely the last big roster moves of the season with the deadline over, don't be shocked if more news comes in the next few weeks. There are a few coaches that are likely in the hottest of seats.
Washington may have lost its two top sack-getters, but nothing else changed. Can they respond to this surprising day? What's next for the organization? There are a lot of questions still to be answered.