Rivera: Young ‘understands’ decision on option

NFL

ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera said defensive end Chase Young understands why the team failed to pick up his fifth-year option.

Rivera said he hopes Young responds the same way Daron Payne did last season.

Young was eligible for an extension that would have paid him $17.452 million. But Rivera had said earlier in the offseason that he wondered whether not picking it up would motivate Young, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft. Young suffered a torn right ACL and a ruptured patellar tendon in 2021.

Rivera said he has communicated with Young via text messages and conversations. Young has not attended Washington’s voluntary offseason workouts since the opening week in April, preferring to work out elsewhere.

“He gets it, he understands,” Rivera said of the fifth-year option. “He’ll come in and give everything he’s got. Look what Daron did.

“Guys that produce for us we want to keep them around. That’s been the message. I believe [Young] has adapted to it nicely. He’s working hard. I’ll be excited to see him when he has to be here.”

While Washington did pick up Payne’s fifth-year option, it did not offer him a contract extension last offseason. There was concern it would lead to Payne leaving via free agency. However, Payne responded with his best season — recording 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss. Both were, by far, career highs. He also earned a Pro Bowl berth.

In March, Payne and the Commanders reached agreement on a four-year, $90 million deal.

Young earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020 with 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries — including one for a touchdown. In nine games the season he was injured, Young only recorded 1.5 sacks and frustrated the coaches with his pass-rush approach.

He returned for the final three games of 2022.

Fellow defensive end Montez Sweat also hasn’t shown up for the voluntary workouts since the opening week. He’ll be a free agent after the season. Rivera said he did not think their absences stemmed from their contract situations, as both have missed portions of the voluntary workouts in the past.

Washington’s mandatory minicamp is June 6-8.

“You always like to have all your guys here,” Rivera said. “It’s voluntary. We understand.”

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