Two years ago at this time, Washington defensive end Chase Young was about to receive The Associated Press 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year accolade at NFL Honors.
Fortune hasn't favored Young quite as much since then, though, as he has been beset by injuries and played in just 12 games over the past two seasons.
The No. 2 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft's future with the Commanders might have gotten a bit murkier, as head coach Ron Rivera said the team has yet to make a decision on whether to pick up Young's fifth-year option.
"Well, what goes into that is you get an opportunity to sit down, look at his tape with our scouts, talk about the way he played, what do we see in terms of development and growth?" Rivera said Wednesday, via Richmond.com’s Michael Phillips. "We're going to sit down with the doctors, with the trainers. 'Where is he? How do you feel, is this something that is going to be long-term, hey, no worries -- as long as nothing crazy happens, he's going to be fine, it's worth the risk?' You know what I'm saying? We have to go through that process more so than anything else."
An ACL injury robbed Young of the second half of his second season and cost him all but three games of his 2022 campaign. Still, he's seen by some as a "no-brainer" in terms of picking up his option based on the overall talent that was on display in his 7.5-sack rookie season.
For Rivera, that's apparently not the case.
The veteran head coach also believes that not picking up the option could inspire Young to return in 2023 with a chip on his shoulder as Rivera believes was the case with Pro Bowler Daron Payne when the team exercised his option but did not give him an extension. Payne is set to become a free agent, but Rivera is of the mind that a fire was lit and the production shown by the defensive lineman was worth the risk of foregoing the option.
"If you look at what Daron did, why wouldn't you think of it that way?" Rivera said. "Believe me, that would be my approach, especially looking at what Daron did and the situation he put himself in.
"It cost us. But it cost us in a good way, because the young man played, he did things the right way. He didn't sit out, he didn't withhold, he could have done that sit-in during training camp, but he didn't. And because he didn't, now we're in that position where we have to find a way to say thank you, OK, you've earned it."
Rivera's sentiments seem to lean to the team doing what it can to bring back Payne, but they add uncertainty to Young's future in Washington. Following such a phenomenal rookie year, Young's burgeoning career has stumbled due to injury. At the least, Rivera is hoping to stoke a fire within the 23-year-old to resume that 2020 form.