Pro Football Weekly's 2020 option tracker

Deadline is Friday for teams to exercise fifth-year options for 2020, and we're tracking every decision

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A reminder that the fifth-year team option, negotiated as part of the 2011 CBA, is a team-friendly tool that provides additional leverage for clubs that want to reserve their rights to players either in lieu of offering a long-term contract or in the interim. In most instances, a team that declines this option is indirectly admitting a mistake was made somewhere along the way in the evaluation or development process. However, we've seen in recent years cases where a player still goes on to flourish —perhaps even with his original team — despite having the option declined.

The fifth-year option salary for top-10 picks is equal to the transition tender at their position, and pick Nos. 11-32 whose options are exercised will receive the average of the third- through 25th-highest earners at their position. Fifth-year option salaries are guaranteed for injury only and become fully guaranteed on the first day of that league year.

 

Picks 1-5

1. QB Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams: Exercised

No-brainer. Goff was the Most Improved Player of the Year as a sophomore and led the Rams to the Super Bowl in Year 3. The bigger question becomes whether the Rams invest in him long term.

2. QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles: Exercised

The only factor preventing this from being a no-brainer is Wentz's injury history. He's missed 14 combined games over the past two seasons, when he tore his ACL and suffered a compression fracture in his back, respectively. He's flashed MVP ability when healthy, but the old adage in the NFL is availability trumps ability.

3. EDGE Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers: Exercised

Bosa has averaged .8 sacks per game and could be in line for a contract that contains around $75 million guaranteed as soon as next offseason.

4. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys: Exercised

The centerpiece of the Cowboys offense might be the best all-around running back in the NFL. But after watching the Rams pay Todd Gurley and his subsequent knee issues, Elliott, who has been durable but not dependable off the field, could be headed for 2021 free agency.

5. CB Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars: Exercised

He's arguably the best cover man in football. The Jaguars should be willing to put up with his immaturity for that kind of premium service but it's clear not all is copacetic between Ramsey and Jaguars brass.

 

Picks 6-10

6. LT Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens: Exercised

Stanley has been solid if not elite, and only 25 years of age, he could be Lamar Jackson's blind-side protector for years to come.

7. DL DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers: Exercised

He now has his partner in crime in Nick Bosa, who arrives at a good juncture in the career of Buckner, who has improved each season, culminating in 12.5 sacks in 2018, and was one of the few really good parting gifts left by Chip Kelly.

8. OT Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans: Declined

Only surprising because Conklin was so exceptional as a rookie All Pro, but he declined in Year 2, which ended with a torn ACL, and was slow regaining his footing in a new scheme last season.

9. EDGE Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears: Exercised

Floyd's second half of 2018, paired with the Bears limited 2019/2020 draft capital and their need to complement Khail Mack, made this a relatively easy decision.

10. CB Eli Apple, New Orleans Saints: Declined

A strong mid-season trade acquisition by the Saints following a disastrous start with the Giants, Apple's arrow is pointing up. But the Saints, who picked up the option on their own 2016 first-rounder — injured DT Sheldon Rankins — likely want to see more before committing north of $13 million to Apple with Marshon Lattimore's likely market-setting deal on the horizon.

Picks 11-15

11. CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Exercised

Frankly, this qualifies as a surprise to us, and our guess is that the difference of about $4 million between what he and Ramsey commanded as a top-10 pick sealed the deal. There's also the scheme switch and belief that Todd Bowles can coax more from VHIII in a more aggressive scheme ... assuming a player who's missed a lot of time can stay on the field.

12. DT Sheldon Rankins, New Orleans Saints: Exercised

He ruptured his Achilles in the postseason, halting abruptly his breakthrough year that included career highs in sacks (8), TFLs (12) and QB hits (15). New Orleans gets injury protection here, though, and can keep a unique player with a lot of untapped upside from hitting the market.

13. OT Laremy Tunsil, Miami Dolphins: Exercised

He might not be a finished product, but Tunsil has come a long way from getting smoked out of the top 10 on one of the more bizarre Thursday evenings in NFL Draft history. He's clearly a survivor, the only man left standing from Miami's rebuilt O-line.

14. S Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders: Declined

If the Raiders didn't telegraph their true feelings for Joseph with this decision, surely the addition of Johnathan Abram with the 27th pick last week did. The hard-hitting Joseph has flashed playmaking ability but also reinforced the concerns about his blend of ruggedness and lack of size in missing time each year with injuries.

15. WR Corey Coleman, New York Giants: N/A

Who says the Giants don't have a plan? It's Corey Coleman #szn in 2020, when the former Browns and Bills castoff could be poised for a starting job outside, a service that'll be largely covered by Buffalo after it claimed him — and his rookie contract — on waivers last year.

Picks 16-20

16. OT Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions: Exercised

Decker played all 16 games for the second time last season, one after Detroit was reminded what it was missing without its starting left tackle who was out the first eight games in 2017 following offseason shoulder surgery. He's more serviceable than special, but after not drafting any linemen ahead of Matthew Stafford's biggest season to date, Decker received some security.

17. S Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons: Exercised

Neal was a Pro Bowler in Year 2 who appeared poised for greater heights when he blew up his ACL in the opener last year. He fits Dan Quinn's 'D' to a tee, and though Atlanta unearthed another stud in his absence in Damontae Kazee, Quinn lamented the leadership void his unit endured sans Neal.

18. C Ryan Kelly, Indianapolis Colts: Exercised

The centerpiece of the game's most improved O-line in 2018, Kelly has missed 11 combined games with injuries over the past two seasons but earned the praise of cerebral Andrew Luck, who called him "probably the most underrated offensive lineman in the NFL." The Colts are much better when he's on the field.

19. DE Shaq Lawson, Buffalo Bills: Declined

Lawson had his best season in 2018 but hardly one befitting of his draft slot: 4 sacks, 5 TFLs, 5 PDs, 12 QB hits. With Ed Oliver on board and surely attracting plenty of attention inside, Lawson, whom Sean McDermott and Co. inherited from the Doug Whaley regime, is in a great spot to ball out as he auditions for 31 other teams in a contract year. Step 1: Play 16 games, something he's yet to do.

20. LB Darron Lee, New York Jets: Reportedly Declined

Lee looks like the modern-day off-ball linebacker prototype — and plays a bit like one too — but the Jets clearly are going in a different direction after backing up the Brinks truck for C.J. Mosley to pair with fellow starter Avery Williamson. Whether Gang Green can fetch anything in a Lee trade becomes the biggest question at this point, when his future with the club seems determined.

Picks 21-25

21. WR Will Fuller, Houston Texans: Exercised

This one is a bit surprising. Fuller's potential is absolutely not debatable, but neither is his dicey durability track record, including missing 17 combined games over his first three seasons, most recently after a torn ACL last October. Fuller is one of the game's more dangerous deep threats (14.6 YPC, 8 TDs of 18-plus yards), but the jury remains out on whether he'll ever become a reliable weapon for Deshaun Watson. Remember, the Texans exercised Kevin Johnson's fifth-year option last year, only to cut him; Fuller's future in Houston is anything but certain.

22. Josh Doctson, Washington: Declined

He's been an injury-riddled one-trick pony, and Washington might have replaced that trick — 50-50 ability — in Round 6 with Kelvin Harmon, after finding its new WR2 with WR1 upside in Terry McLaurin. Doctson turns 27 in December and lacks the dynamism to be worth this investment.

23. Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings: Declined

Treadwell's best season came in 2018, when he averaged 8.6 yards per carry and committed a few inexcusable drops in huge moments. Minnesota has moved on, but the saving grace here for Treadwell is that he'll only turn 24 in June. The problem is he's speed deficient, something that's difficult enough to mask at his position but especially with his other inconsistencies.

24. William Jackson III, Cincinnati Bengals: Exercised

He still needs to do a better job taking the football away (one career INT), but WJIII has earned his keep as a sticky cover man with more room to grow. And the Bengals, who seem to select a first-round corner bi-annually, now have gone three years without spending a top-150 selection at the position.

25. Artie Burns, Pittsburgh Steelers: Declined

About the best thing we can say for Burns is that he's been available every week. But the Steelers benched him last season, his first without an interception, and recently admitted his confidence needs reparation. The arrival of third-rounder Justin Layne, a potential Day 1 starter opposite Joe Haden, might not help.

Picks 26-31

26. Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos: N/A

Lynch is competing for the backup job behind Russell Wilson in Seattle. The Broncos trading for Joe Flacco in March and trading up for Drew Lock in Round 2 last week is part of the domino effect of John Elway missing badly on Lynch.

27. Kenny Clark, Green Bay Packers: Exercised

Ted Thompson's penultimate first-round pick as Packers general manager, Clark has been better than advertised: A stout run stuffer, as expected, but with outstanding disruptiveness (career-high 6 sacks last season, 10.5 over the past two years) and some positional flexibility. Despite a regime and scheme change, he looks like a foundational part of Green Bay's defense.

28. Joshua Garnett, San Francisco 49ers: Declined

Failed 49ers coach Chip Kelly traded back into Round 1 for Garnett, a Day 2-3 prospect on most boards who's played to that projection. He lost his starting job last season and enters Year 4 with 11 combined starts.

29. Robert Nkemdiche, Arizona Cardinals: Declined

Despite playing his best football last season, Nkemdiche will hit the 2020 open market, where teams figure to find a tantalizing prospect who can be a difference maker ... when the mood strikes him. We'd say keep an eye on a potential reunion with Bruce Arians in Tampa, but it was actually one-and-done Cardinals HC Steve Wilks, now the Browns defensive coordinator, who squeezed the most from Nkemdiche last year.

30. DL Vernon Butler, Carolina Panthers: Declined

Dave Gettleman may know "hog mollies," but he missed on his final first-rounder in Carolina with Butler, who has never become a productive rotational rusher, never mind serviceable starter. He has outstanding physical traits but hasn't shown the want-to needed to maximize them.

31. OL Germain Ifedi, Seattle Seahhawks: Reportedly Declined

Among the most penalized players in the NFL since his arrival, Ifedi has started 44 of 48 regular-season games, cycling back and forth between guard and tackle. He seemed to settle in a bit last year, his first with respected OL coach Mike Solari in place of the awful Tom Cable, at right tackle, cutting down on penalties and ramping up his competitiveness against outside speed. So he's shown improvement, and Seattle gives its draft picks every chance to succeed, but it wasn't enough to have his nearly $10 million option exercised.

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