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Commanders declining DE Chase Young's fifth-year option

Chase Young's once-promising, seemingly limitless tenure in Washington has suddenly reached a turning point.

The Commanders declined to pick up Young's fifth-year option Wednesday, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported. Washington's decision means Young will have just one season (2023) left on his rookie deal.

Washington could have mulled this for a few more days, as the NFL's deadline to pick up a fifth-year option on a 2020 first-round pick doesn't arrive until May 2. Instead, the Commanders didn't feel the need to wait any longer, producing cracks in what once was a rock-solid partnership between player and club.

There's good reason for Washington's decision: Young simply hasn't been available nearly enough to justify the relatively large increase in salary that would come with a fifth-year option. After a fantastic start to his professional career -- one deserving of AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors -- Young has appeared in just 12 games over the last two seasons, and has registered 1.5 combined sacks.

Once seen as a pass-rushing dynamo and a future face of the league, Young has faded into the background due to injury. A significant knee injury cost him half of his second year and limited him to just three games in 2022, played late in a season in which Washington was able to win half of its games without him.

When healthy, Young was truly a force who was only scratching the surface of his potential. Because of those injuries, though, Washington doesn't have enough proof that he'll either be worthy of another (more expensive) season, or an extension beyond 2024. He can, of course, change that by putting together a tremendous 2023 campaign and instantly driving up his market value as he heads to free agency in 2024.

For now, though, Young is entering his fourth season with little contractual security. 2023 will be a prove-it season for Young, who will play with his future on the line.

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