It’s that time again: time to think about options for the fifth year! Players selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft are nearing the end of their third NFL season, which means their teams will have to decide in the coming months whether to exercise the option with which their four-year Rookie contracts will be extended through the 2022 campaign.
The option equation for the fifth year will change with this class under the new collective agreement, with options now fully guaranteed when exercised and compensation now partially determined by player performance. But the key question: has this player shown enough in three seasons to be worth the investment? – Stay the same.
Below, I’ve examined each player selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and given a yes-no judgment on whether their option should be exercised for the fifth year this off-season.
NOTE: For the sake of simplicity, the following players are presented in the order they were drafted in 2018. The players are listed here with their current teams. The players who have changed teams since being called up are marked with an asterisk.
This wasn’t a safe bet for the 2020 season, but Mayfield has made so much progress (25: 8 TD-to-INT ratio with a 2018-like 62). 7 percent completion rate and 95. 8 passer rating) under coach Kevin Stefanski in the first year it could be a costly mistake not to take advantage of this option. The question of a long-term renewal is currently open, but at least exercising the option would ease the pressure (and media scrutiny) that Mayfield could face in a contract year next season.
I still believe that Barkley can produce at an elite level, even after sustaining a knee injury that cost him most of 2020. The big question is whether coach Joe Judge, who was absent the first year when Barkley was drafted, thinks Barkley is worth the financial commitment. Or will he get closer to the philosophy of his mentor Bill Belichick, who historically refuses to pay a lot of money for running backs?
I think Darnold can make a great quarterback. In today’s NFL, however, teams like the Seahawks (in the early days of Russell Wilson) and the Chiefs (before paying Patrick Mahomes) have shown that building a relatively inexpensive rookie QB is a proven way to win that Super bowl. With Darnold remaining an unknown NFL crowd in Year 4, it would make sense for the Jets to add a quarterback with second overall selection in the next year’s draft and not make additional financial commitments to Darnold. Remember, General Manager Joe Douglas wasn’t in the building when Darnold – who plays better than you think – was selected.
Ward leads the Browns in defended passes (18) while using two picks, 46 tackles and a forced fumble. Cleveland’s best cornerback is clearly worth getting punted for.
After just four games in an injury-reduced year 2019, Chubb has won 7. 5 sacks and 19 QB hits in 2020 that earned Pro Bowl honors. Yes, he’s currently dealing with an ankle injury that kept him away from week 16, but this is a breeze – especially if the Broncos decide to clear up the cap space by parting with their current colleague, Rusher Von Miller scheduled to count for $ 22. 1 million against the cap in 2021 per over the cap. Miller is a future Hall of Famer, but he will also be 32 for the next season and suffer an ankle injury that cost him all of 2020.
As a two-time all-pro who earned Pro Bowl nods in each of his three professional seasons, Nelson is sure to receive the most lucrative overtime granted to a security guard in NFL history.
Look for Allen for an addition that will put him in Deshaun Watson’s financial stratosphere – or even higher if he can lead Buffalo to the Super Bowl.
Smith has become a constant differentiator. Bear’s general manager Ryan Pace hoped it would be. Against Sunday’s Jaguars, Smith became the fourth linebacker in 30 years to record two picks and a fiddly recovery in the same game.
McGlinchey is Pro Football Focus’s fourth highest run blocker – it’s an easy decision to make. I’m more curious to see if the 49ers will sign the veteran on the left against Trent Williams, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent.
Rosen, who recently signed with the 49ers, is not eligible for the fifth year option as his rookie contract was void when he was released by the Dolphins who took him off the Cardinals in a deal last year had acquired.
After Miami tried unsuccessfully to make Fitzpatrick an all-rounder, he was sold to the Steelers, immediately becoming the revenue-generating machine Pittsburgh’s defense needed to get back to the elite level. In 2020, he received his second Pro Bowl nod in a row. Fitzpatrick has nine picks and two forced fumbles in 29 games with the Steelers so far.
The buccaneer’s defenses aren’t that good without Vea – currently in an injured reserve with a broken ankle – plugging the middle. When he comes back, Vea should continue honing his pass-rushing skills while remaining a run-stuffing force.
Payne doesn’t draw media attention to a starred line of defense, but the value he brings as someone doing the dirty work makes him worth the option.
Davenport, who was viewed as a developmental prospect when the Saints traded him in, has not yet fully fulfilled his promise and has only collected 1. 5 sacks in 10 appearances this season. It could still hit the heights New Orleans has been looking for, but it will likely be easier to invest in a proven commodity in the final defensive position while realizing that the franchise tag can be used to keep Davenport in the year To keep 2022, he should have a 2021 breakout campaign.
Miller has been proven wrong in thinking he was better suited to play the right tackle, and he is amply rewarded for doing so. Miller only allowed two sacks per PFF all season.
Edmunds is just 22 years old and is only getting better, especially when it comes to forcing sales. So far, in 2020, he has contested 110 tackles (the second most common in the team) with three passes defended and one sack.
James has looked like a game-wrecker when he’s healthy and nods to Pro Bowl and All-Pro as a rookie, but his injury history (James is out all of 2020 with a knee injury after being constrained in his by a stress fracture Walking to five games in 2019) makes the option too risky. If James gets back to shape, the Chargers could use the franchise tag to keep him in 2022.
Alexander is Green Bay’s best cornerback since Charles Woodson’s heyday a decade ago. He holds PFF’s second-best defensive and coverage levels among the cornerbacks with over 100 snaps this season, with a clearance rate of 49 allowed. 2 percent (fourth best per PFF).
Vander Esch made the Pro Bowl after a great rookie season defending 140 tackles, two picks and seven passes, but injuries have kept him from competing at that level since then. In the last two seasons he played in only 19 games with 132 tackles during this time.
Ragnow is currently dealing with a broken neck, but he has become a cornerstone of Detroit’s offensive line. He received a Pro Bowl nod in 2020 and received the second best offensive rating from PFF among the centers (at least 100 snaps).
Cincinnati’s pick of Price, who has only started one game so far this season, was the definition of meeting a need for position after Ragnow fell off the board.
As a former linebacker, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel knows the value that a versatile player like Evans, who has 92 tackles, four quarterback hits, and four defended passes, brings to his defensive system.
Wynn has only played 18 career games so far, missed all of 2018, and then ended up on an injured reserve in November of that season. Even so, the undersized Wynn has shown that he can be a solid protector of the blind side and is an integral part of the Patriots’ efforts to rebuild their offensive in the years to come.
In the past season, Moore took part in receptions (87) and shipyards (1. 175) Career highs reached. . The fact that he is well on his way to finishing with roughly the same mileage while posting fewer catches in 2020 shows his evolution as a major threat in Carolina’s new offense under Matt Rhule. Moore currently leads the NFL in yards per catch at 17. 9 (among those with more than 50 receptions), while on 10th. Seat in reception areas (1. 092).
The change of scene that accompanied Hurst’s Baltimore deal in March has helped him hit his best season yet (52 catches, 543 yards, five TDs) while building a strong chemistry with quarterback Matt Ryan.
A strong argument can be made that Ridley, who finished fifth in the NFL when receiving yards (Jan.. 322) and took third place in yards per catch (16). 1, among those with more than 50 catches) has replaced Julio Jones as the top recipient of the falcons.
Penny has been plagued by the injury bug, but even 100 percent he’s not the best who traces back on Seattle’s roster, making it difficult to commit to beyond 2021 at this point.
Edmunds owns Pittsburgh’s fourth best coverage per PFF and has defended two picks and eight passes this season. The Steelers give him the opportunity to build up the chemistry with Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Chalk Bryan (eight starts of 15 appearances with 0. 5 sacks and 18 tackles in 2020) alongside Dante Fowler (No.. 3 overall in 2015) as another first-round mistake by the Jaguars on the defensive.
Hughes, who has only started seven games in his career and has only defended 13 passes in three seasons, has been in an injured reserve with a neck injury since October. Meanwhile, the Vikings were designing other cornerbacks in 2020 and selected Jeff Gladney in Round 1 (No.. 31 overall) and Cameron Dantzler in round 3 (No.. 89 total), with Gladney recording 79 tackles, including seven for the loss, and one forced fumble and Dantzler in 45 tackles, two picks, four defended passes, and one forced fumble.
Running backs sometimes fall out of favor in New England for a variety of reasons. Michel (63 carriers, 373 rushing yards, six touchdowns in total) couldn’t build on a strong rookie season and this year stepped up to Damien Harris, who has proven he can handle the workload when the Patriots lead back.
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