5. Chase Young, DE
New England signed Matt Judon to a four-year deal worth $56 million in 2021 and that’s proven to be a bargain. The former Baltimore pass rusher went off during his first two seasons with the Patriots, recording 12.5 sacks in year one and 15.5 in his second season. He was off to another hot start in 2023 with four sacks in the first four games but was then lost for the season.
In a loss to the Cowboys, Judon suffered torn lower bicep and was sent to the IR. With him out, no one else delivered much off the edge. They clearly missed his explosion and the ability he has to take over the game.
The good news is that Judon will be back in 2024 and there’s reason to believe he'll pick up where he left off. Still, the Pats would be wise to find someone who can provide a secondary rush and perhaps step up if Judon were to miss any more time.
A solid option for this role would be Chase Young. The former No. 2 overall pick out of Ohio State won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2020 with 44 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He battled injuries over the next two years which led to Washington declining the fifth-year option in his contract. He was then traded to San Francisco where he’s been a rotational pass rusher on a stacked defensive line.
Set for free agency, Young won’t be cheap, but he could be added on a lower deal than many other pass rushers. Perhaps even a one-year “prove-it” deal could benefit him and the Patriots as it would provide more motivation for him to put up insane numbers for his new team.