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Saints to sign former Commanders' top pick Young

Chase Young San Francisco 49ers Chase Young - The Canadian Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms of a one-year contract with free agent defensive end Chase Young, a move that provides reinforcements to an edge pass rush that periodically struggled to pressure quarterbacks last season.

"I definitely plan to add a good piece,” Young said in a video conference with New Orleans reporters Monday night. “I’m going to let my play do the talking.”

Saints defensive ends combined for 14 sacks last season, led by Carl Granderson's 8 1/2, and the club ranked 29th in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt.

Young, who turns 25 in April, was drafted second overall out of Ohio State by the Washington Commanders in 2020, when he was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. But he was sidelined by major knee injuries in his second pro season that also kept him out for much of 2022.

“Injuries definitely hindered a few things," Young said. "It’s all about the process, all about the journey. I know what I can do.”

Last season, Young saw his most action since his rookie campaign, playing in 16 games with the Commanders and San Francisco 49ers, who acquired him in a midseason trade. He had 7 1/2 sacks during the regular season and had another in the Niners' Super Bowl loss to Kansas City.

“I feel like in every area of my game, I can grow. I’m still a young player," Young said. “I’m going to do my best to make sure (the Saints) know they didn’t pick the wrong one.”

The 6-foot-5, 264-pound Young, whose new contract reportedly pays up to $13 million, now joins a position group that also includes Saints all-time sack leader Cameron Jordan.

Young said becoming Jordan's teammate is “definitely something big for me that I’m excited to do," calling Jordan "a guy who I can spend time with who I can absorb the game from.”

Jordan, who has 117 1/2 career sacks, had just two sacks last season, the fewest since his rookie season in 2011. However, Jordan also played through injuries and received high praise from coaches and the front office for his availability and effectiveness against the run.

A number of teams expressed interest in Young, who said he was attracted to New Orleans by the “family atmosphere” he experienced during a visit to team headquarters and what he referred to as the team's “winning culture.”

The Saints have not made the playoffs in the three seasons since franchise all-time passing leader Drew Brees retired, going 9-8 in 2021, 7-10 in 2022 and 9-8 in 2023. But New Orleans was a playoff team nine times between 2006 and 2020, winning one Super Bowl in the 2009 season.

For the past two seasons, the Saints have been coached by Dennis Allen, a former defensive coordinator under Sean Payton, who briefly retired in 2022 as the most successful coach in franchise history before returning to coaching with Denver in 2023.

In New Orleans, Young also will join two former Ohio State teammates: linebacker Pete Werner and receiver Chris Olave. Saints veteran cornerback Marshon Lattimore also starred at Ohio State, but turned pro when Young was an incoming freshman with the Buckeyes in 2017.

“This place, I had a feeling; My mom always said trust my gut," Young said. "I felt like this was the best choice for me.”