NFL fifth year player options: Track team decisions for 2021 early rounds

NFL fifth year player options: Track team decisions for 2021 early rounds

The 2024 NFL Draft is over. Next up on the league’s calendar: Thursday’s deadline for teams to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year options of players drafted in the 2021 first round.

When exercised, these options will translate into salary increases for players while they remain under contract through the 2025 season. The options also allow teams more evaluation time prior to contract negotiations. Many teams have already announced their decision to exercise these options, and some first-round picks from the Class of 2021 have already received long-term extensions.

Here’s a look at where each 2021 first-round pick ranks. Not included in this list: Offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, drafted by the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 17 but cut in August 2022. He is a free agent.

Long-term extensions

Penei Sewell, OT, Detroit Lions

Choice: 7

Still just 23 years old, Sewell signed a four-year, $112 million extension with the Lions last week that includes $85 million guaranteed. He is now under contract through 2029 and is the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman, with an average annual value of $28 million per year.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Choice: 10

One day after picking up the $15.59 million fifth-year option, the Eagles agreed to sign the wideout (coming off two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons) to a three-year, $75 million extension with a $20.35 signing bonus million and $51 million guaranteed.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Choice: 27

Bateman received a two-year contract extension last week, which will keep him in Baltimore through the 2026 season. He certainly has the ability to be an impactful wide receiver, and the Ravens always need more weapons for Lamar Jackson, but durability and consistency have limited him through his first three seasons. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but his 2025 option was for $14.35 million. It’s a big step to commit to this increase or something like it (versus $2.38 million in 2024).

The Jaguars exercised Trevor Lawrence’s option. Is a long-term extension next? (Jeremy Reper/USA Today)

Fifth-year option exercised

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Choice: 1 | Option 2025: $25.66 million

Lawrence has been solid. He has yet to reach the elite level, but he does have a playoff win to his credit and seems likely to continue rising under the tutelage of Doug Pederson. The two sides continue discussions on a long-term agreement.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons

Choice: 4 | Option 2025: $10.88 million

Pitts is primed for a big year now that Kirk Cousins ​​is leading a friendly offense. The former Florida star, who posted a 1,000-yard season as a rookie, should record a second after two down years fueled in large part by poor quarterback play.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Choice: 5 | Option 2025: $21.82 million

Chase is one of the best wideouts in the game, with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (two of 1,200-plus). Is a record-breaking extension next?

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins

Choice: 6 | Option 2025: $15.59 million

Waddle started his career with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Miami expects more of the same in the coming years.

Jaycee Horn, CB, Carolina Panthers

Choice: 8 | Option 2025: $12.47 million

Lockdown corners are highly valued, which is why the Panthers have exercised Horn’s option, with a view to an extension beyond 2025.

Pat Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos

Choice: 9 | Option 2025: $19.8 million

The Broncos have parted ways with offensive players as they reshape the roster, but they are expected to do whatever they can to retain Surtain, who is considered one of the best defensive backs in the game.

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As the prizes pile up for Broncos CB Pat Surtain, the question of a contract extension looms

Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys

Choice: 12 | Option 2025: $21.32 million

Parsons is one of the NFL’s most dominant playmakers. Dallas wisely exercised its option last week and will likely work out an extension eventually.

Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

Choice: 13 | Option 2025: $19.04 million

Slater looks like one of the best young left tackles in the game, and the Chargers know they have to do everything possible to keep Justin Herbert afloat.

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, New York Jets

Choice: 14 | Option 2025: $15.31 million

Vera-Tucker is certainly talented, and a quality offensive line is a high priority for the Jets as they welcome Aaron Rodgers back from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in Week 1. But Vera-Tucker has suffered two season-ending injuries in the past three. years, so he has something to prove in the next two years.

Jaelan Phillips, edge, Miami Dolphins

Choice: 18 | Option 2025: $13.25 million

Phillips has shown great promise. A torn Achilles tendon ended his 2023 campaign prematurely, so it made sense to choose this option. The decision gives him time to prove he can return to top form as the Dolphins continue to evaluate him for a potential multi-year contract extension.

The Vikings didn’t have to think long about exercising Christian Darrisaw’s fifth-year option. (Eric Hartline/USA Today)

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Minnesota Vikings

Choice: 23 | Option 2025: $16.04 million

Darrisaw is a talented young left tackle who will serve the Vikings and their future franchise quarterback (JJ McCarthy?) well. Exercising the option was simple.

Travis Etienne Jr., RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Choice: 25 | Option 2025: $6.143 million

Etienne is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is a key part of Jacksonville’s offense, so the option makes sense.

Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns

Choice: 26 | Option 2025: $13.38 million

Newsome hasn’t proven himself to be a player worth a salary over $10 million per year, but he is a solid player and still growing.

Greg Rousseau, edge, Buffalo Bills

Choice: 30 | Option 2025: $13.39 million

Rousseau is promising, but not yet dominant, as he enters season No. 4. However, you can never have too many edge rushers, so choosing the option gives him more time to develop and Buffalo more time to evaluate.

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Still waiting

Zach Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos (traded from New York Jets)

Select: 2 | Option 2025: $22.41 million

The Jets traded Wilson and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Broncos for a sixth-round pick last week. After drafting Bo Nix 12th overall, and with an incumbent veteran in Jarrett Stidham, the Broncos are unlikely to pick up Wilson’s option. Instead, he’s likely nothing more than a one-year experimental backup.

Trey Lance, QB, Dallas Cowboys (traded from San Francisco 49ers)

Select: 3 | Option 2025: $22.41 million

As the Cowboys’ third quarterback, Lance did not set foot on the field last season. Dallas is unlikely to exercise the fifth-year option, but the 49ers one-and-done prospect could remain with the Cowboys through 2025 at a lower price.

Justin Fields, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (traded from Chicago Bears)

Choice: 11 | Option 2025: $25.66 million

Fields could become Pittsburgh’s quarterback of the future, depending on how he develops behind Russell Wilson. But the Steelers will likely wait and see how things develop rather than pick up the option.

Mac Jones, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (traded from New England Patriots)

Choice: 15 | Option 2025: $13.25 million

Jones was a cheap, experimental one-year acquisition as an insurance policy for Lawrence, but the Jaguars can find a new backup at a lower cost next season.

Zaven Collins, LB, Arizona Cardinals

Choice: 16 | Option 2025: $13.25 million

Collins flashed here and there at inside linebacker and tried to transition to an edge rusher last season. He shows some promise, but enough to warrant such a salary? Probably not.

Kadarius Toney, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (traded from New York Giants)

Choice: 20 | Option 2025: $14.35 million

Toney has talent. And given the Rashee Rice situation, Kansas City needs wide receiver help. But Toney is far too unreliable both on and off the field to justify exercising this option.

Kwity Paye, edge, Indianapolis Colts

Choice: 21 | Option 2025: $13.39 million

The former Michigan standout is coming off a career-best 8 1/2 sack season and appears to have the potential to continue to rise and become a consistently good – not dominant – player. Is it worth taking the option, which would be a reasonable deal for Indianapolis if Paye posts a double-digit season for 2024? Or should the Colts roll the dice and wait until next year to decide his future, even if that means competition in the marketplace?

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Kwity Paye’s fifth-year option: Why Colts should and shouldn’t pay Paye

Caleb Farley, CB, Tennessee Titans

Choice: 22 | Option 2025: $12.47 million

Injuries have limited Farley to a total of 12 games (two starts) in three seasons, and he didn’t play at all in 2023. Expect the Titans to decline this option.

Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Choice: 24 | Option 2025: $6.79 million

The run game is extremely important for the Steelers, especially as they look to bolster their quarterback tandem of Russell Wilson and Fields. Running backs always face longevity issues, so extending Harris for another season via an option will save Pittsburgh from having to make a big multi-year commitment for now.

Payton Turner, edge, New Orleans Saints

Choice: 28 | Option 2025: $13.39 million

Turner has never played a full season; an eight-game appearance in 2022 was his best. He has not shown anything that justifies the exercise of the option.

Eric Stokes, CB, Green Bay Packers

Choice: 29 | Option 2025: $12.47 million

Stokes has barely seen the field over the past two seasons, so Green Bay will likely decline the option.

Odafe Oweh, edge, Baltimore Ravens

Choice: 31 | Option 2025: $13.25 million

Oweh appeared to be on the rise before an injury derailed his 2023 season. However, the Ravens like him highly and believe he can continue to develop into a top passer.

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, edge, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Choice: 32 | Option 2025: $13.25 million

Tryon-Shoyinka has flashed, but hasn’t yet achieved the consistent level of impactful play the Bucs would like. They suffered some offseason losses on the defensive side of the ball, so using the option to buy more time for both Tryon-Shoyinka and themselves could be a good decision.

Turned down

LB Jamin Davis, Washington commanders

Choice: 19 | Option 2025: $14.48 million

Davis has had minimal impact in Washington. He recorded 104 tackles and three sacks in 2022, but his shortcomings outweigh his impactful moments. Washington was content to decline his option to see if Dan Quinn (a better defensive mind than Jack Del Rio) can position Davis for growth in 2024.

(Top Photos of Najee Harris and Kwity Paye: Jane Gershovich and Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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