Edge Notes: Judon, Sweat, Van Noy, Bears

The Patriots’ defense has been hit hard by injuries lately, including the torn bicep suffered by pass rusher Matt Judon. The four-time Pro Bowler is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery, and it is doubtful he will be able to return this season.

Judon is likely facing a six-month recovery timeline, as noted by ESPN’s Dan Graziano. That would, of course, shut him down for the remainder of the season – something which would also carry financial implications for him given the nature of his restructured contract. The 31-year-old has expressed a desire to play again this year, though, and Graziano adds he and the Patriots are exploring a recovery path similar to that of Steelers star T.J. Watt.

The latter suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Week 2 of last year, an injury which usually shuts players down for the season. The former Defensive Player of the Year managed to recover in time to play in Week 9, however, which helped spark a late-season playoff push in Pittsburgh. Judon will attempt to emulate that, but for now it appears unlikely he will be able to do so.

Here are some other edge-related notes from around the league:

  • Chase Young and Montez Sweat form the foundation of the pass rush contingent for the Commanders, but one has played to their potential far more than the other. Despite being a former No. 2 pick, Young is in line to reach free agency in March since his fifth-year option was declined amidst major injury concerns and an inability to follow up on an encouraging rookie season. Sweat is likewise in need of a new deal, as he is playing on his $11.5MM option in 2023. Of the two, SI’s Albert Breer expects the latter to be targeted for a long-term second contract over Young. Breer explains that Sweat – who already has 4.5 sacks in 2023, bringing him halfway to matching his single-season high – will likely be easier to extend than Young. With big-money commitments to defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen already in place, Washington would be hard pressed to retain both Sweat and Young on multi-year pacts.
  • Facing a number of injury concerns amongst their outside linebackers, the Ravens recently signed Kyle Van Noy to serve in a depth capacity. The veteran has proven to be an effective hybrid defender, and his playing time should increase given the fact 2022 second-rounder David Ojabo could miss the rest of the campaign. Van Noy’s arrival in Baltimore could have come much sooner, though. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes that the Ravens tried to sign 32-year-old this offseason, but the sides couldn’t agree on compensation. That opened the door to the team’s Jadeveon Clowney acquisition, but the pair are now in place together. Each will have a role to play as the Ravens look to maintain a top-10 sack total (13 through four games) through the remainder of the year.
  • The Bears ended their 14-game losing streak last night, but the team’s defensive struggles were deserving of much of the blame for the skid reaching that length. The unit has been hampered in recent years by a lack of established edge rushing options, which made Chicago’s Yannick Ngakoue August signing an unsurprising one. The 28-year-old’s one-year, $10MM pact has led to a pair of sacks so far, but as a team Chicago has registered only seven to date. As a result, defensive end will be a priority in the 2024 offseason, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The 1-4 Bears will have chances in free agency and the draft to add much-needed contributors on the edge, regardless of if Ngakoue is retained.
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