Montez Sweat‘s time in the nation’s capital has come to an end. The contract-year edge rusher has been dealt from the Commanders to the Bears in exchange for a second-round pick, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
Sweat’s name has frequently been mentioned in trade talk, with the expectation he would be more likely to be moved than fellow Washington defensive end Chase Young. A third-round pick was known to be on the table for the former, but reports indicated the Commanders were angling for a second-rounder. With that in hand, Sweat is now headed to the Windy City. As a previous report indicated and SI’s Albert Breer confirms, the Bears were also involved in “extensive” talks for Young.
The Falcons were named as a team to watch for Sweat in particular. Atlanta was indeed in on the 27-year-old, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones confirms. Interest in Sweat helped drive up the Commanders’ asking price, which to no surprise has come in higher than that of the third-round compensatory pick Washington would have been in line to receive had he departed in free agency.
The Commanders already have defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne on the books with hefty financial commitments. Since the team elected to decline Young’s fifth-year option, the former Defensive Rookie of the Year is set to see his rookie contract expire at the end of the season. Young is content to wait until that point to negotiate what will be a sizeable raise on his second pact. Schefter confirms the challenge of keeping both Young and Sweat under contract beyond 2023 played a role in the decision to pull off today’s trade.
It will be interesting to see how Young (who has remained healthy in 2023 and registered five sacks) performs without Sweat lining up opposite him. The latter has also had a strong season with 6.5 sacks, and he will look to translate that production to a Bears team desperately in need of a long-term boost in the pass rush department. Sweat – who is PFF’s third-highest rated run defender amongst edge rushers (and 56th in terms of pass rush grade) – is attached to his $11.5MM fifth-year option in 2023, and he too will be due a lucrative extension at some point in the near future.
Chicago is set to once again have considerable cap space this offseason (a league-leading $110MM entering today), as was the case in 2023. General manager Ryan Poles was active in a number of areas during free agency, but the main edge rush addition was a one-year deal given to nomadic sack artist Yannick Ngakoue. The 28-year-old received $10.5MM in a bid to give the Bears a consistent presence on third downs and help his chances of securing a multi-year commitment in the spring. Things have not gone according to plan so far, however, with Ngakoue registering just a pair of sacks in eight games.
Sweat will provide a starting presence for the Bears, who sit at the bottom of the league with just 10 sacks on the year. The Mississippi State alum has managed between five and nine in that regard in every season so far, and a strong showing to close out the year will help his bargaining power regarding extension talks with Chicago at the end of the year (unless, of course, an extension will have already been worked out by that point).
The Commanders are clearly adopting a seller’s stance given today’s move, but a recent report suggested a fire sale should not be expected. Sweat may therefore be the only notable name to depart Washington, but the Bears will remain a team to watch over the coming hours given the newfound uncertainty surrounding cornerback Jaylon Johnson‘s future in Chicago.