NFL teams under pressure as fifth-year option deadline approaches

nfl teams under pressure as option deadline looms

The deadline for teams to exercise the fifth-year options on first-round picks from the 2020 NFL Draft approaches, and teams must make their decision by May 2. As the pressure rises, teams will make hard decisions on whether to give large one-year guarantees to players who already required investments of high draft capital.

With a week to go, only five of the 32 players selected in the first round have had their options picked up: quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, wide receivers Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb and offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. However, a few remaining names feel like a matter of “when” and not “if,” like quarterback Justin Herbert and cornerback A.J. Terrell.

While some choices feel like no-brainers, others are more difficult. The Green Bay Packers, who recently traded away long-time quarterback Aaron Rodgers, are looking toward a dilemma with quarterback Jordan Love. Despite entering his fourth season in the NFL, Love has played just 10 games for The Pack, starting one.

Love is expected to be the team’s starter next season, but the Packers will have to make a decision on his fifth-year option before then. With Love not meeting specific thresholds due to a lack of snaps played, his price tag would be a guaranteed $20.27 million in 2024. If the Packers decline his option, Love will be a free agent following the 2023 season, but if they accept it, the Packers will be tied to the Utah State product for guaranteed money regardless of how he performs in his first full season.

The large quantity of guaranteed money is part of what makes the process of the fifth-year option so difficult. Some teams may decline fifth-year options because of injury concerns, such as the Washington Commanders and the New York Jets.

Chase Young, a former No. 2 pick for Washington, has played just 12 games over the last two seasons. While the Commanders most likely will want to retain the former Defensive Rookie of the Year, his guaranteed $17.45 million price tag may be too much for his injury risk. Similarly, Jets tackle Mekhi Becton has played just one game over his last two seasons, making his cost of $12.57 million a lot to handle.

Another interesting player to monitor is Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The former LSU Tiger fell out of favor in the Chiefs backfield in the 2022 season, playing a career-low snap rate of 32%. With the emergence of rookie seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco, the price of Edwards-Helaire’s option may be more than the Chiefs are willing to accept. Despite being the cheapest of all the options from the 2020 NFL Draft, Edwards-Helaire would be owed more in 2024 ($5.46 million) than Pacheco’s entire rookie deal ($3.74 million).

Another tough call will come from the Denver Broncos, who have reportedly been shopping wide receiver Jerry Jeudy ahead of the 2023 season. Jeudy is owed a potential $14.12 million on his fifth-year option, and the Broncos don’t seem to want to be the team to make that decision.

Jeudy has been good, catching 157 passes for 2,295 yards and nine touchdowns so far in his NFL career. However, he might not have made the jump toward stardom that was expected of him yet. The Broncos are currently projected to be nearly $31 million over the cap in 2024, according to Spotrac, and with Denver facing a financial crunch, Jeudy may have to be a casualty the team will be forced to accept.

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Publish Date:2023-04-26 07:03:59

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