Montez Sweat

Ron Rivera, Jack Del Rio Wanted Commanders To Retain Montez Sweat

As the Commanders completed what looked on the surface to be a reluctant sell-off at the trade deadline, Ron Rivera said all parties were onboard with the trades of Montez Sweat and Chase Young. A virtual meeting with new owner Josh Harris appears to have provided the final push for the Commanders to trade their defensive ends, though other factors were part of the equation.

It looks like the Washington coaching staff was readier to trade Young than Sweat. Rivera, DC Jack Del Rio and others wanted to make it past the deadline with Sweat still on the roster, according to’s John Keim and Jeremy Fowler. But two second-round offers came in for the contract-year edge rusher — from the Bears and Falcons — leading the team to complete the first of its two deadline-day deals.

Following the Commanders’ Week 8 loss to the Eagles, calls came in on the DEs and other players, per Fowler and Keim. While the Commanders had done legwork on trades involving Sweat and Young for more than a week going into the deadline, it was not known until hours before the Oct. 31 trade endpoint how Harris felt.

The Dan Snyder successor expressed an openness to trade the defensive ends and acquire draft capital, and while Fowler and Keim do not describe the meeting as Harris mandating both be traded, the owner leaning in that direction looks to have provided the biggest difference in Washington making the surprising call to trade both Sweat and Young. Both players were gone hours after the meeting.

Young’s propensity to freelance within Del Rio’s scheme looks to have made the Commanders more amenable to trading the former No. 2 overall pick, and the team dropped its asking price to move on. It took only a third-round compensatory pick for the 49ers to acquire the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year. Sweat had been more consistent, but with the Commanders expecting both players to cost near-top-market money, they decided to cut bait. As should be expected, the extensions given to Jonathan Allen (in 2021) and Daron Payne (in March) played a role, along with the defensive line’s early-season struggles, in the Commanders determining they would not be in position to extend Sweat or Young.

Rivera wanting to keep his top sack artist in the fold makes sense, as he entered this season on a hot seat. The fourth-year Washington HC had hoped to retain enough pieces to salvage this season, a sentiment some in the front office shared as well; losing Sweat, who has since signed a high-end Bears extension, did not help matters. The 2019 first-round pick is closing in on his first double-digit sack season, collecting 6.5 of his nine QB drops in Washington. Without Sweat and Young, the Commanders are close to starting over at defensive end.

While Washington had regressed on defense even with its two walk-year sack artists, the team has cratered on that side of the ball without them. The Commanders have allowed back-to-back 45-point games, the second coming after Rivera — after a morning conversation with Harris — fired Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer.

Harris and Rivera have retained a solid relationship, per ESPN, but the writing has been on the wall for the well-liked sideline bastion for a while. The Commanders are also more likely than not to clean house in the front office, with ex-Panthers execs Marty Hurney and Eric Stokes joining GM Martin Mayhew as staffers in play to follow Rivera in being ousted. It is unknown what type of coach and leadership structure Harris will prefer in 2024, but he effectively asked a lame-duck staff to trade draft capital it most likely will not be in position to use come April.

Rivera, 61, is on track to be fired by a new owner for a second time. David Tepper canned the former NFC champion HC during the 2019 season, the Panthers owner’s second on the job. This has been Mayhew’s second crack at a GM job. The former Washington Super Bowl-winning cornerback, who is 58, served as Lions GM from 2008-15.

Panthers Pursued WRs Davante Adams And Tee Higgins, DE Montez Sweat At Deadline

Despite a win-loss record that placed them squarely in the “sellers” category, we heard in the run-up to last month’s trade deadline that the Panthers were operating as both buyers and sellers. We also heard that Carolina was especially interested in acquiring a top-flight wide receiver, and to that end, David Newton of reports that the team pursued both the Raiders’ Davante Adams and the Bengals’ Tee Higgins, though neither club was willing to make a deal. Newton adds that GM Scott Fitterer also tried to acquire DE Montez Sweat, whom the Commanders ultimately traded to the Bears.

The early struggles of rookie quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, have created plenty of concern among the Panthers’ fanbase, especially since No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud is playing at a high level for the Texans and since Carolina paid such a premium for the privilege to climb up the draft board to select Young. However, Newton writes that head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer still believe their plan to trade high-end draft capital — including their 2024 first-round pick — and top receiver D.J. Moore was a sound one that will pay dividends in the future. Likewise, Dianna Russini of The Athletic (subscription required) says that the organization is still unified in the belief that Young is the long-term answer at quarterback.

In order to get the most out of Young, the Panthers understand that they need to give him more playmakers, which is why they pursued Adams and Higgins (they were not alone in that regard, as the Jets made a play for both receivers as well). Adams’ career accomplishments, which include six Pro Bowl nods and three First Team All-Pro selections, dwarf those of Higgins, who has not yet made a Pro Bowl. Nonetheless, Higgins is six years younger than Adams, is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and clearly has WR1 upside.

While Adams is under club control through 2026, Higgins is due to be a free agent at season’s end. If they had acquired the Clemson product, the Panthers would have needed to sign him to an extension or put the franchise tag on him, so his contract situation would have been a priority agenda item alongside a new deal (or franchise tag) for edge rusher Brian Burns. According to Newton, Carolina retained Burns through a second consecutive deadline in which he generated plenty of trade interest because the team views him and Young as foundational pieces of a future contender. Though the Panthers are presently without a 2024 first-rounder, they do have $42MM in projected cap space next season along with six other draft picks, and the plan is to turn those assets into talent to complement Burns and Young.

The latest reporting on the matter suggests that Burns and the Panthers are not actively engaged in contract talks, and Newton confirms prior reports that the two sides were far apart when negotiations stopped in December. If player and team cannot come to terms, Burns will be hit with the franchise tag, according to Newton.

If Fitterer were successful in his pursuit of Sweat, he certainly would have had a dynamic pair of pass rushers to headline his defense. However, Sweat was also in a contract year at the time of his trade and signed a lucrative extension shortly after arriving in Chicago, so the Panthers would have needed to authorize a similar contract for Sweat or quickly close the gap with Burns in order to assure themselves of the chance to retain both players.

As it stands, Fitterer & Co. will be able to focus most of their early offseason efforts on Burns’ new deal — if Fitterer is still around, that is. Per Russini, there are some members of the organization that believe the roster has not been assembled correctly, and owner David Tepper is frustrated by a Reich-orchestrated offense that league sources have described as “boring,” “predictable,” and “lifeless.” Reich, of course, was hired by Fitterer, and Russini says the “message in the building” is that ownership needs to see offensive improvement in the second half of the season.

If that does not happen, then Russini expects changes to be made. It is unclear if that simply means a shake-up to Reich’s offensive staff, or if Reich himself could be in jeopardy. It is fair to wonder whether Fitterer might also be on the hot seat, though ownership apparently is satisfied with how the defense and special teams units are performing.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Bears, Poles, Gary

Graham Glasgow became a cap casualty this offseason, seeing the now-Sean Payton-run Broncos dump his four-year, $44MM contract. The veteran interior lineman had taken a pay cut in 2022, after losing his job (to Quinn Meinerz) following an injury absence. Glasgow returned to the Lions, who had drafted him in 2016, on a one-year deal worth $2.75MM deal. Given backup money, Glasgow indeed began the season as a utility man. But the Lions have needed to use the eighth-year veteran at three positions this season, with injuries sidelining Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Glasgow has done enough to remain a starter when the unit is at full strength, Dan Campbell said (via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett).

Glasgow, 30, has started the past six games and done so at left guard, right guard and center. Moving forward, Glasgow will be Detroit’s RG starter. Vaitai won that job out of training camp but needed time off after an early-season injury. While Vaitai is back after knee and back maladies, the 2020 free agency pickup has not showed top form upon returning. Pro Football Focus grades Glasgow as the No. 5 overall guard. The former third-round pick now has the opportunity to use this season to fetch a nice contract in free agency once again, though the Lions could also have interest in retaining him. The team removed a year from Vaitai’s contract, amid a pay cut that followed his missed 2022, and has Jackson in a contract year. The Lions have some questions at guard moving forward.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Although the Bears have since extended Montez Sweat, executives took issue with GM Ryan Poles‘ pre-deadline strategy. One anonymous GM said (via the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora) the move of indicating Jaylon Johnson was available barely 12 hours before the deadline did not give teams enough time to gauge his trade value, assess the player’s future or negotiate a contract. A report indicating the Bears would let Johnson’s camp seek a trade — after Bears extension talks were not progressing — came out just after midnight CT on Oct. 31. The Bears ended up keeping Johnson, and Poles has said the team wants to keep the contract-year cornerback. No team has franchise-tagged a corner since the Rams cuffed Trumaine Johnson in 2017, but Chicago does have the tag available with Sweat signed days after that trade.
  • The Bears obtained Sweat from the Commanders for a second-round pick. The above-referenced GM said the Falcons were on track to land Sweat for a third-round pick before Poles put the Bears’ second-rounder on the table. Atlanta is believed to have increased its offer twice in response. Another anonymous GM told La Canfora the Bears should have been selling at the deadline. While execs did not agree with the Bears giving up a pick likely to land in the 30s for Sweat, the team proceeded this way for Chase Claypool last year and now has an upper-echelon edge defender signed long term.
  • Weeks after seeing DC Alan Williams step away, the Bears fired running backs coach David Walker, per The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns. Workplace behavior led to Walker’s dismissal,’s Courtney Cronin adds. The Bears’ HR department had previously disciplined Walker, according to Cronin, with the second infraction leading to the firing. Matt Eberflus hired Walker, 53, last year. HR was also involved in Williams’ exit; the two matters are unrelated. Omar Young is now coaching Chicago’s RBs.
  • Rashan Gary‘s four-year, $96MM Packers extension calls for a $34.6MM signing bonus, which represents the fifth-year outside linebacker’s guarantee. Additionally, Gary will collect a $6.2MM roster bonus on Day 3 of the 2024 league year, according to OverTheCap. On Day 3 of the 2025 league year, Gary will earn an $8.7MM roster bonus.
  • The Lions bumped linebacker Trevor Nowaske up to their active roster due to another team’s effort to poach him off the practice squad, Campbell said. A rookie UDFA out of Saginaw Valley State (Mich.), Nowaske joined Detroit’s active roster last week.

Falcons Offered Commanders Second-Round Pick For DE Montez Sweat

Montez Sweat‘s status has changed a few times since the Halloween trade deadline. The 2019 first-round pick has gone from contract-year Commanders pass rusher to a Bears rental to a player now locked in long term with his new team. Sweat signed a four-year, $98MM extension prior to suiting up for the Bears.

Coming into deadline day, the Commanders held at least two offers for Sweat. The other known proposal came from the Falcons, who had sweetened their proposal by that point. Atlanta initially offered a third-rounder for Sweat, and CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones indicates that deal included conditions that would have bumped the compensation to a second. However, Jones adds the Falcons then dropped the conditional component and offered the Commanders a straight second for Sweat.

A Georgia native with family in the Atlanta area, Sweat is believed to have initially preferred to be dealt to the Falcons. It appears, however, the Bears’ struggles under Matt Eberflus have once again benefited them in a trade. The Packers were also believed to have offered the Steelers a second-round pick for Chase Claypool last year, but Pittsburgh preferred the Chicago offer due to what turned out to be a correct expectation the pick would end up higher in the 2023 draft. Chicago’s second-round draft slot checked in at No. 32, Green Bay’s at 45. The Bears came into this year’s deadline at 2-6, with the Falcons residing at 4-4.

GM Ryan Poles‘ unusual penchant for making buyer’s trades in a seller’s position has now netted the team two pieces over the past two years. While the Claypool move backfired to the point the Bears needed to give him away in a pick swap involving 2025 late-round choices — via an October deal with the Dolphins — the team is far more bullish on Sweat, who is now the NFL’s fifth-highest-paid edge defender.

As was the case with what turned out to be an unappealing 2023 receiver market, Jones adds the Bears were not high on the 2024 edge rusher pool. The Packers drained it further to start last week, extending Rashan Gary. While Green Bay would have enjoyed the opportunity to tag Gary next year, the Bears’ NFC North rivals provided a bit of clarity on the ’24 edge market just before the deadline. That deal helped shape Sweat’s, with the Bears giving their trade acquisition a higher AAV ($24.5MM) compared to Gary ($24MM).

Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith are on track for free agency in 2024, but the 2022 Vikings starters are not exactly long-term building blocks at this stage. Chase Young would qualify as such, though the 49ers now hold exclusive negotiating rights with the former Defensive Rookie of the Year until the 2024 tampering period. Josh Uche (Patriots) and Jonathan Greenard (Texans) qualify as edges who will command interesting markets, and while the Bears will have a need opposite Sweat, they opted to take their big swing early.

The Falcons do not have a foundation in place on the edge just yet. Bud Dupree is tied to a one-year, $3MM contract, with rotational rusher Lorenzo Carter re-signing on a two-year, $9MM pact this offseason. Second-year player Arnold Ebiketie leads the team, along with D-lineman David Onyemata, with 3.5 sacks. The Falcons’ 19 as a team ranks outside the top 20. Though, the Bears have been in worse shape. Chicago’s 10 sacks are five worse than the 31st-place team this season. They will bank on Sweat changing their pass-rushing course.

Poll: Who Fared Best At Trade Deadline

A week removed from this year’s trade deadline, every team will soon have its acquired talent in uniform. The 49ers, Lions and Jaguars made trades while in bye weeks; Chase Young, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Ezra Cleveland will suit up for their new teams soon.

On this note, it is time to gauge the position every notable buyer and seller landed in following the deals. This year’s deadline featured two second-round picks being moved, though the teams that made those moves (Chicago, Seattle) have different timelines in place.

We have to start with the Commanders, who scrapped their yearslong Young-Montez Sweat partnership by making the surprise decision to move both defensive ends hours before the deadline. Although the team was listening to offers on both, it was widely assumed they would only part with one, thus saving a contract offer or a 2024 franchise tag for the other alongside well-paid D-tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. New owner Josh Harris looks to have made his bigger-picture plan clear, however, pressing upon the Commanders’ football-ops department to explore moving both.

Washington collected a second-rounder that likely will land in the 30s in exchange for Sweat, who was in a contract year at the time. It only obtained a compensatory third for Young, who drew interest from other teams (including the Ravens). For the first time in the common draft era, Washington holds five picks in the first three rounds. It cannot be assumed Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew will be making those picks, but Harris has effectively forced his hot-seat staffers to make do this season without Young and Sweat, who have combined for 11.5 sacks this year.

The initial team to pounce on the Commanders’ sale made a buyer’s move despite being in a seller’s position for the second straight year. After trading what became the No. 32 overall pick for Chase Claypool, GM Ryan Poles signed off on the Sweat pickup. The Bears have struggled to rush the passer under Matt Eberflus, having traded Khalil Mack in March 2022 and Robert Quinn last October. While acquiring a veteran in a contract year injects risk into the equation, Poles had the franchise tag at his disposal. But the Bears made good use of their newfound negotiating rights with Sweat, extending him on a four-year, $98MM pact. Despite no Pro Bowls or double-digit sack seasons, Sweat is now the NFL’s fifth-highest-paid edge rusher. Though, the Bears’ long-term edge outlook appears rosier compared to its pre-Halloween view.

Mayhew, Robert Saleh and Mike McDaniel have provided third-round compensatory picks for the 49ers, who have been the NFL’s chief beneficiary of the Rooney Rule tweak that awards third-round picks to teams who see minority coaches or execs become HCs or GMs. The team has more picks coming after the Ran Carthon and DeMeco Ryans hires. Using one to acquire Young seems like a low-risk move, given the former Defensive Rookie of the Year’s talent. Young has made strides toward recapturing the form he showed before his severe 2021 knee injury, and he is on pace for a career high in sacks.

The 49ers, who won last year’s trade deadline by landing Christian McCaffrey, will deploy Young alongside ex-college teammate Nick Bosa and the rest of their high-priced D-line contingent. The team will have a decision to make on Young soon; the free agent-to-be is not eyeing in-season extension talks, either. San Francisco could at least be in position to nab a midround compensatory pick, should Young leave in 2024.

The Young move came a day after the Seahawks obtained Leonard Williams from the Giants. That move cost Seattle second- and fifth-round picks. Williams is also in a contract year, but with the Giants picking up most of the tab, Seattle has the veteran D-tackle on its cap sheet at $647K. The former Jets top-10 pick has shown consistent ability to provide inside pressure, and the USC alum’s best work came in his previous contract year (2020). Gunning for another big payday, Williams joins Dre’Mont Jones in what is probably the best interior D-line duo of the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll era.

Seattle still surrendered a second-round pick for a player who could be a rental. Williams cannot realistically be franchise-tagged in 2024, with the Giants tagging him in 2020 and ’21, and he is not yet on Seattle’s extension radar. The Giants have already paid Dexter Lawrence and were planning on letting Williams walk. They passed on a comp pick for the trade haul, effectively buying a second-round pick in the way the Broncos did in the 2021 Von Miller trade. The Giants, who suddenly could be in the market for a 2024 QB addition, now have an additional second-rounder at their disposal.

While they made their move a week before the deadline, the Eagles landed the most accomplished player of this year’s in-season trade crop. Kevin Byard is a two-time first-team All-Pro safety, and although he is in his age-30 season, the former third-round pick is signed through 2024. The Eagles sent the Titans fifth- and sixth-round picks (and Terrell Edmunds) for Byard, a Philadelphia native, marking the team’s second splash trade for a safety in two years. Philly’s C.J. Gardner-Johnson swap turned out well, and Byard not being a pure rental could make this a better move.

Rather than turning to a fifth-round rookie, the Vikings acquired Josh Dobbs in a pick swap involving sixth- and/or seventh-rounders and saw the move translate to a surprising Week 9 win. Dobbs following in Baker Mayfield‘s footsteps as a trade acquisition-turned-immediate starter also made him the rare QB to see extensive action for two teams in two weeks; Mayfield was inactive in his final game as a Panther. The well-traveled Dobbs could give the Vikings a better chance to stay afloat in the NFC playoff race.

The Lions (Peoples-Jones), Jaguars (Cleveland) and Bills (Rasul Douglas) also made buyer’s moves at the deadline. The Bills gave the Packers a third-round pick, collecting a fifth in the pick-swap deal, for Douglas. They will hope the Green Bay starter can help stabilize their cornerback corps after Tre’Davious White‘s second major injury.

Who ended up faring the best at this year’s deadline? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s moves in the comments section.

Latest On Commanders’ Trades, Sam Howell

New Commanders owner Josh Harris played a major role in pushing the Montez Sweat and Chase Young trades over the goal line. While Harris is believed to have made the push for Washington to trade one of its starting defensive ends and, per’s Albert Breer, explore moving both.

The team was not expected to trade both, but after the team dealt Sweat to the Bears for a second-round pick, calls kept coming in for Young. The Ravens pursued the former No. 2 overall pick, but it took only a third-round compensatory pick for the 49ers to acquire Young just before the deadline.

Ron Rivera was said to be onboard with this sell-off, though it is difficult to believe the fourth-year Washington HC was thrilled with losing his top two edge rushers as he attempts to make a case for a fifth season. But the Commanders did win their first game after the trades. Contractual resources will be allocated elsewhere in 2024, after a Young-or-Sweat decision — be it through free agency or the franchise tag — had loomed for years.

Rather than this being about acquiring Day 2 ammo to potentially trade up for a quarterback in 2024, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini indicates there is a “strong” belief within the Commanders’ building Sam Howell is the team’s franchise quarterback (subscription required). These picks will presumably be used to build around the 2022 fifth-rounder.

It is not exactly ideal for ownership to be driving major trades, though it does frequently happen. And it certainly cannot be assumed Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew will be around to make the picks come April 2024. Both David Tepper and Rob Walton signed off on coach firings within their first 1 1/2 years on the job. The Broncos fired Nathaniel Hackett after 15 games, and Tepper canned Rivera after 12 in 2019. Rivera, who led Washington to the playoffs in 2020 but does not have a winning season with the team, may be on the verge of seeing another new owner fire him.

Even as he entered the season on a hot seat, Rivera stumped for Howell this offseason. After the Commanders made an aggressive Russell Wilson offer and were connected to just about every available QB in 2022 — in a process that ended with the trade for Carson Wentz — they stood down this offseason, centering their QB plan around Howell. Although Jacoby Brissett signed a one-year deal worth $8MM, Howell was always expected to be the starter. After winning the job, the North Carolina product has shown flashes (and a propensity to take sacks at a concerning rate) but has not exactly cemented himself as the long-term starter — especially if the 2024 Commanders feature a new coaching staff.

QBR slots Howell 20th. He leads the league in completions and is tied for the NFL high in interceptions (nine). Howell has completed 66.6% of his passes, at 7.0 yards per attempt, and posted 14 TD throws. Howell’s second half of the season could determine the team’s plans with the Sweat- and Young-obtained picks. For now, however, the plans are for Howell to stick around as the starter. These blueprints often change, and no team knows this better than the Commanders. Washington started seven Week 1 QBs from 2017-23. Only the Chargers (1987-93), Browns (2013-19) and Colts (2017-23) match this turnover rate in the Super Bowl era.

The Commanders started Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams at defensive end Sunday. Sweat made his Bears debut, after agreeing to a $24MM-per-year extension; Young is set to begin his 49ers run in Week 10. Washington will build its defensive line around Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne‘s big contracts, but the exits of both Young and Sweat will create a key need for the 2024 offseason.

Bears To Sign Montez Sweat To Extension

After being acquired by the Bears at the trade deadline, Montez Sweat will be sticking around Chicago. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the edge rusher has agreed to a four-year extension worth $98MM in new money. Including this season, the deal is worth a total of $105MM.

[RELATED: Bears Working On Montez Sweat Extension]

The contract includes close to $73MM in guaranteed money, according to Rapoport. With a $24.5MM average annual value, Sweat should now rank fifth among pass rushers in yearly money.

That’s certainly a lot of money for a player with zero Pro Bowl appearances, zero All-Pro nods, and zero 10-sack seasons on his resume. However, Sweat should be on his way to accomplishing most (if not all) of those feats this season. In his eight starts with the Commanders, the 27-year-old collected 6.5 sacks to go along with 32 tackles, 11 QB hits, and a pair of forced fumbles.

Pro Football Focus has Sweat ranked 28th among 107 qualifying edge rushers, although the site gives him a top-three grade at the position for his run defense. Further, the site ranked him as a top-10 edge rusher in 2022, with Sweat finishing that campaign with 8.5 sacks, 28 QB hits, and 14 tackles for loss. The former first-round pick is just finishing his rookie contract, and while he doesn’t have the track record of some of the league’s other top-paid pass rushers, the Bears are clearly banking on his upside.

The Bears sent a second-round pick to Washington for the edge rusher at the trade deadline. The front office certainly raised some eyebrows with the move; the second-round pick should come early considering Chicago’s 2-6 record, and Sweat was set to hit free agency following the 2023 campaign. The Bears made is abundantly clear that they intended to re-sign the impending free agent, although Sweat was noncommittal after joining the team.

I think all that goes into play from financial to the people around me to the players in the building, all that type of stuff like that,” Sweat said earlier this week. “I just got here. I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to lay my head at tonight.”

Chicago ultimately didn’t take long to get the deal done. The trade and extension isn’t unlike last year when the Dolphins traded for Bradley Chubb hours before the trade deadline. Two days later, they finished out extension talks.

Of course, considering the draft capital they gave up, the Bears were prepared to use the franchise tag on Sweat if the two sides couldn’t agree to a new deal. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes, the Bears can now use that tag on someone like cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who wasn’t dealt at the deadline despite a public trade request.

Chicago, which traded Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn last year, has rolled out one of the worst pass-rushing units in the NFL over the past two campaigns. They’ll now be counting on Sweat to be guiding that grouping for the foreseeable future.

Montez Sweat Addresses Bears Extension Talks; Latest On Jaylon Johnson

Last year, the Dolphins traded for Bradley Chubb hours before the trade deadline. Two days later, they finished out extension talks with a deal that prevented a franchise tag scenario for the former Pro Bowler. The Bears are trying to do the same.

Ryan Poles said this week he is confident the Bears will extend Sweat, whom they acquired from the Commanders for a second-round pick. For his part, Sweat does not appear to be in a hurry. It sounds like the contract-year defensive end would prefer to gauge this Bears fit first.

I think all that goes into play from financial to the people around me to the players in the building, all that type of stuff like that,” Sweat said, via’s Courtney Cronin. “I just got here. I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to lay my head at tonight.”

As mentioned Wednesday, Sweat will be armed with some leverage. The Bears’ anemic pass rush over the past two years coupled with Sweat being in a contract year and being acquired for a pick likely to land in the 30s all stand to drive up the price tag. Although Sweat has no Pro Bowls on his resume, he is moving toward his first double-digit sack season. With the Bears sending over a high pick despite being 2-6, this trade is aimed around reaching an extension agreement. Sweat’s camp knowing this will undoubtedly set a high bar to clear.

The Bears will likely have the franchise tag ready for Sweat in the event the sides cannot come to terms by the March deadline to apply tags, but that could also run the risk of Jaylon Johnson departing in free agency. The Bears engaged in extension talks with the ascending contract-year cornerback last month, but failed trade talks — accelerated by the team granting his camp permission to seek a trade hours before the deadline — did not lead to a deal. The Bears wanted at least a second-rounder for Johnson, and Poles said the trade push came from Johnson’s camp after the Chargers game.

There’s a difference between talking and trying to work things out versus trying to get things done,” Johnson said, via Cronin, of the October negotiations. “Up until this weekend, nothing was done. I figured I wanted some different opportunities to see what else was out there for me. Really, other than that, that’s about it.”

Still, the prospect of Sweat being paid first does not sit too well with Johnson. The former second-round pick, whom Pro Football Focus ranks third among corners this season, said (via CBS Sports) “it wouldn’t” go over too well with him if the Bears paid Sweat before extending him. With Johnson not sounding too enthused about restarting negotiations during the season, present circumstances introduce the risk of seeing that happen. Though mutual interest exists between the Bears and Johnson on a second contract, the Utah alum added he is “100%” interested in seeing what is out there for him in free agency.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to lose Jaylon Johnson,” Poles said. “If I were to lose Jaylon Johnson, I would like to have a high percentage of hitting on another Jaylon Johnson, which to me, is a late first and into early second. Really simple there. That didn’t happen. We are still open to getting a contract done. I know we’re going to follow Jaylon’s lead on how he wants to go about doing that but we’re still open.”

Sweat being paid early would open the door to the Bears tagging Johnson, but no team has cuffed a corner with the tag since the Rams retagged Trumaine Johnson in 2017. That said, the Bears did use the transition tag on Kyle Fuller in 2018, soon matching a Packers offer sheet to retain him. The transition tag price is expected to come in just south of $17MM, with the franchise tag at nearly $20MM. With the transition tag not providing any compensation for a team if a player signs an unmatched offer sheet, teams rarely use this tag.

The Bears will now see how Matt Eberflus‘ defense looks with Sweat opposite Yannick Ngakoue, with Johnson anchoring the secondary. All three of these players being in contract years (and Eberflus’ seat warming) injects uncertainty into this situation. Though, Sweat can probably count on being in Chicago past 2023.

Commanders Fallout: Falcons, Sweat, Ravens, Young, 49ers, Giants, Rivera

The Falcons joined the Bears in making a serious pursuit of Montez Sweat. They are believed to have offered a third-round pick for the contract-year defensive end. While Chicago’s second-round offer won out, Atlanta was prepared to go a step further. The Falcons look to have had an extension in place had they made a deal for Sweat, Jeremy Fowler of notes. Sweat went to high school in the Atlanta area, with Fowler adding the defensive end has family there and was on board with being moved to the NFC South team. Instead, it is the Bears who are trying to negotiate an extension with the fifth-year edge. Chicago will have a 2024 franchise tag in its back pocket if no deal is reached.

Once again struggling to pressure passers, the Falcons are tied for the the second-worst sack total in the league (15). Only the Bears’ 10 ranks below the Falcons’ output. Atlanta also lost Grady Jarrett for the season in Week 8, creating a steeper uphill battle. Here is more coming out of the Commanders’ defensive line-reshaping deadline day:

  • The Ravens also engaged in talks with the Commanders, with The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec indicating Chase Young was Baltimore’s target (subscription required). The Ravens’ 31 sacks lead the NFL, but they have been frequently connected to edge rusher additions in recent years. It is unclear what Baltimore offered Washington for Young, but it only took a compensatory third-rounder for San Francisco to win Tuesday’s second DE sweepstakes.
  • John Lynch held talks about both Sweat and Young with ex-lieutenant Martin Mayhew, who is in his third year as Washington’s GM. Lynch also talked to Giants GM Joe Schoen, per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows. Although it is unclear who the 49ers were pursuing from New York, the Giants having already traded Leonard Williams would have seemed to naturally pique teams’ interest. Lynch and Mayhew go back to their playing days with the Bucs, when both DBs played together for four seasons. Lynch was a 1993 draft choice, Mayhew a 1993 Tampa Bay free agent signing. Mayhew then spent time as a 49ers executive during the Lynch-Kyle Shanahan years. They began discussing Young two weeks ago, per Lynch. Young has passed his physical and will be en route to San Francisco, potentially set to suit up after the 49ers’ Week 9 bye.
  • Indeed, the Commanders did not let the narrow loss to the Eagles determine their path. Rather than open the floodgates following that defeat, Ron Rivera indicated (via NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay) the process that led to the trades began around 10 days ago. Ownership was believed to have played a major role in making these trades, putting Rivera and Mayhew in a seemingly difficult spot due to Young and Sweat being in position to help this year’s team and the current power duo in danger of being gone when it is time to make the draft picks. That said, Rivera said (via Finlay) all parties were onboard with the moves. This week could certainly have provided some ownership-front office tension, but Rivera will now move forward without the Commanders’ two edge-rushing pillars, who had combined for 11.5 sacks this season.

Bears Working On Montez Sweat Extension

For the second straight season, the Bears made a buyer’s trade as a struggling team. The 2-6 squad sent the Commanders a second-round pick for Montez Sweat. Unlike Chase Claypool in 2022, Sweat is in a contract year, applying some pressure on Ryan Poles‘ staff to reach a resolution.

Rather than wait for free agency, Poles sounds like he is taking the same approach the Dolphins used after trading for Bradley Chubb. Poles said the Bears are working on an extension for Sweat, according to’s Courtney Cronin. The Dolphins reupped Chubb (on a $22MM-per-year deal that will probably be pertinent re: Sweat talks) shortly after acquiring him from the Broncos last year.

Sweat will possess considerable leverage in these negotiations. In addition to being in a contract year, he has joined a Bears team that has deployed the NFL’s worst pass rush over the past two seasons. Chicago, which traded Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn last year, having sent Washington a pick likely to land in the 30s also strengthens Sweat’s position.

The Bears will have the option of franchise-tagging Sweat. Such a move is expected to cost just more than $20MM next year. Considering the difficulties the Bears have encountered in pressuring QBs under Matt Eberflus, it seems a near-certainty Sweat will be tagged if the parties cannot hammer out an extension before the March deadline to designate franchise players. The Commanders appeared prepared to tag either Sweat or Chase Young, but their actions Tuesday paint a different picture about where ownership believes the team stands.

Upon acquiring Mack just before the 2018 season, the Bears had an extension ready. The Raiders balked at paying Mack in 2018, but the Bears authorized a six-year deal worth $141MM. At the time, that $23.5MM-per-year pact made Mack the NFL’s highest-paid defender. Nick Bosa has since moved the goal posts to $34MM per year. Sweat is not where Mack was five years ago or where Bosa is today, having never made a Pro Bowl or reached double-digit sacks in a season. His leverage runs the risk of a Bears overpay, however, so it will be interesting to see if numbers surface during negotiations.

The Panthers are in a similar situation with Brian Burns, though it is what the organization turned down that has armed the 2019 first-rounder with ammo in negotiations. The Rams proposed a two-first-rounder package for Burns, while the Bears pursued him in the March talks that led to the No. 1 overall pick changing hands. Carolina kept Burns out of that deal, leading D.J. Moore to Chicago. Sweat would stand to be interested in what Burns fetches, though the latter is a two-time Pro Bowler.

Rashan Gary does not have a Pro Bowl or a 10-sack season on his resume, but the Packers just made him the game’s fifth-highest-paid edge rusher. The full guarantees in Gary’s deal are not yet known, but that will be a relevant accord for when the Bears and Sweat’s camp exchange numbers.

Sweat, 27, is on pace for his first double-digit sack season, having tallied 6.5 in his final eight Commanders games. He could certainly try his luck on upping his value in a contract year, but the Bears will attempt to lock the former first-round pick down early. An early Sweat extension would free up a tag for Jaylon Johnson, whom the Bears passed on trading Tuesday despite allowing the cornerback’s camp to find a trade partner.