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What is the fifth-year option in the NFL?

Pittsburgh Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick
Bethany Cohen
ANALYST
Modified 29 Apr 2021
Feature

If you have been paying attention to NFL news lately, you may have heard teams picking up the "fifth year option" on some of their players. You may have also heard of some NFL teams deciding not to pick up the fifth year option on their players as well. NFL teams are trying to get all of this situated before they begin drafting a new group of players so that they are aware of their current needs on the roster.

What are the fifth-year options in the NFL?

The fifth-year option refers to the final year of an NFL player's rookie contract, most specifically a player drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Rookies who are drafted after the first round are only eligible for four-year contracts without an option for a fifth year, which is another advantage to being drafted in the first round.

When is the fifth-year option selected?

NFL teams need to notify players whether or not they will be picking up their fifth-year option after the last game of the third year of their contract and May 3.

What does the fifth-year option entail?

Well, for starters, a fifth-year option cannot be discussed or negotiated. Essentially, it is what it is. The team can't add bonuses to the fifth-year option either, but the price tag of the option can depend on the player's performance up until that point. For example, if the player was selected for the Pro Bowl, that could add to the amount that the team would pay for the fifth-year option.

Something else to note is that the fifth-year option is guaranteed money. If a player gets injured that season, they won't lose a penny because they are guaranteed that amount from the fifth-year option.

If a team decides not to exercise the player's fifth-year option, they will still remain on the team for their fourth season but nothing is guaranteed after that.

Players and teams are still allowed to discuss long-term contracts with the player, essentially giving them more time to discuss those terms now that they have an extra year on their existing contract.

Notable Fifth-Year Options Selected

Just this week, some of the NFL's biggest stars received their fifth-year option, below is a list of some of those players along with the amount of money received.

  • RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants-$7.217M
  • G Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts-$ 13.754M
  • WR DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers-$11.16M
  • C Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions-$12.657M
  • S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers-$10.612M
  • QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns-$18.858M
  • DT Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers-$7.6M
Published 29 Apr 2021
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