A compensatory third-round pick ended up being enough for the 49ers to acquire Chase Young from the Commanders, but as Washington listened to offers following its Montez Sweat trades, two AFC teams made pushes.
In addition to the previously reported Ravens pursuit, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz notes the Jaguars were in on Young before last week’s deadline as well. Considering Jacksonville’s offseason efforts and place in AFC playoff graphics, it is not too surprising to see the AFC South leaders as a buyer.
The 6-2 team had already acquired Ezra Cleveland from the Vikings, a deal that needed only a 2024 sixth-rounder (originally a Panthers pick) to complete. But the more telling trade matter here involved ex-Cleveland teammate Danielle Hunter, whom the Jaguars chased this summer. The Jags and Vikings were believed to be close to completing a swap that would have sent the Pro Bowl edge rusher to Florida. Minnesota instead held onto Hunter, reaching an August resolution that ended up making him less valuable in trades.
Minnesota received calls on Hunter, and it appears likely Jacksonville circled back on the NFL’s sack leader. But Hunter’s summer Vikings agreement prevents the ninth-year veteran from being franchise-tagged. With it becoming clear the surging Vikings would hold onto Hunter, Young became a key deadline piece.
The 49ers and Commanders, whose GMs both worked together in San Francisco and suited up as DBs together in Tampa, began talking about a prospective deal ahead of Week 8. John Lynch and Martin Mayhew finalized the exchange for a pick that will land at the end of the third round. It appears the Jags and Ravens were not ready to beat that, though it is not known if another third-round pick emerged in the sweepstakes. Odds are, it didn’t, given what it took to acquire Young, whom Commanders owner Josh Harris pushed to move despite Sweat already being dealt.
Jacksonville will head into the stretch run with Josh Allen anchoring its pass rush. The contract-year edge’s nine sacks rank fifth in the NFL, while his 26 pressures are tied for second. Travon Walker, however, sits second on the Jags with 3.5 sacks; the 2022 No. 1 overall pick has compiled 14 pressures. The Jags have not had their full pass rush available for long, though; both Dawuane Smoot and DaVon Hamilton were in-season activations. With Young set to finish out a contract year in San Francisco, the Jags will need to rely on their batch of Allen sidekicks heating up.
Young, 24, will debut for the 49ers this week. San Francisco’s depth chart lists the former Defensive Rookie of the Year as a starter opposite Nick Bosa. The prospect of the 49ers rolling out a Bosa-Young-Javon Hargrave–Arik Armstead quartet is promising for Steve Wilks‘ defense, which also has the services of Randy Gregory, Clelin Ferrell, Javon Kinlaw and 2022 second-rounder Drake Jackson. Young was not aiming to discuss an extension in Washington, and it still sounds like he will cross that bridge after the season. The 49ers will need to decide on paying a fourth D-lineman (or tagging their newest addition) or letting him walk for a likely compensatory pick.
The trade the Jaguars did end up making does not look like it was for a player the team plans to start. Cleveland will settle in as a backup behind starters Brandon Scherff and Walker Little, Doug Pederson said (via ESPN’s Michael DiRocco). A 2020 second-round pick, Cleveland has been a starter for most of his career. He began this season as Minnesota’s starting left guard.
This will be an interesting transition for the relocating blocker, whose rookie contract expires at season’s end. The Jags moved Walker to guard this season, after he began the year at left tackle due to Cam Robinson‘s suspension. Little has missed the past three games, but Pederson is intent on plugging the third-year lineman back in at left guard. With Little returning as a backup in Week 8, it sounds like the Stanford product will be starting against the 49ers this week.