Fifth-Year Option Decisions For 2016

While the deadline for exercising fifth-year options typically falls on May 3, teams around the league had an extra day to make those decisions this year, since May 3 didn’t land on a business day. For 2012’s first-round picks, if their fifth-year options for 2016 weren’t picked up by midnight on Monday, they’re now on track to become unrestricted free agents after the 2015 season — assuming they’re still even playing on their rookie contracts, that is.

In total, 20 of 2012’s 32 first-rounders had their fifth-year options exercised by their respective teams. However, that leaves 12 players whose options weren’t picked up, including four of the top seven picks from the ’12 draft.

Of those 12 players, five didn’t have an option to exercise for various reasons, including release, suspension, or retirement. One of the remaining seven, Whitney Mercilus, inked an extension with the Texans to avoid the need for the option. That leaves just six players who had their option years outright declined.

The numbers suggest that if a first-round player plays out the first three years of his rookie contract, there’s a very good chance his team will exercise his fifth-year option. Even players who were considered potential question marks, such as Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil or Dre Kirkpatrick, had their options exercised, and it’s hard to question their clubs’ decisions. After all, these fifth-year salaries are only guaranteed for injury at the moment, so those teams have until the start of the 2016 league year to rethink their decisions.

Here’s a full breakdown of the fifth-year option decisions for 2016:


  1. Andrew Luck (QB, Colts), $16.155MM: Exercised
  2. Robert Griffin III (QB, Washington), $16.155MM: Exercised
  3. Matt Kalil (T, Vikings), $11.096MM: Exercised
  4. Ryan Tannehill (QB, Dolphins), $16.155MM: Exercised
  5. Luke Kuechly (LB, Panthers), $11.058MM: Exercised
  6. Stephon Gilmore (CB, Bills), $11.082MM: Exercised
  7. Dontari Poe (DT, Chiefs), $6.146MM: Exercised
  8. Fletcher Cox (DE, Eagles), $7.799MM: Exercised
  9. Michael Floyd (WR, Cardinals), $7.32MM: Exercised
  10. Michael Brockers (DT, Rams), $6.146MM: Exercised
  11. Quinton Coples (OLB, Jets), $7.751MM: Exercised
  12. Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Bengals), $7.507MM: Exercised
  13. Melvin Ingram (OLB, Chargers), $7.751MM: Exercised
  14. Kendall Wright (WR, Titans), $7.32MM: Exercised
  15. Chandler Jones (DE, Patriots), $7.799MM: Exercised
  16. Riley Reiff (T, Lions), $8.07MM: Exercised
  17. David DeCastro (G, Steelers), $8.07MM: Exercised
  18. Dont’a Hightower (LB, Patriots), $7.751MM: Exercised
  19. Kevin Zeitler (G, Bengals), $8.07MM: Exercised
  20. Harrison Smith (S, Vikings), $5.278MM: Exercised

Not exercised:

  1. Trent Richardson (RB, Raiders): Not applicable due to release
  2. Justin Blackmon (WR, Jaguars): Not applicable due to suspension
  3. Morris Claiborne (CB, Cowboys), $11.082MM: Declined
  4. Mark Barron (S, Rams), $8.263MM: Declined
  5. Bruce Irvin (OLB, Seahawks), $7.751MM: Declined
  6. Shea McClellin (OLB, Bears), $7.751MM: Declined
  7. Brandon Weeden (QB, Cowboys): Not applicable due to release
  8. Whitney Mercilus (OLB, Texans), $7.751MM: Signed extension
  9. Nick Perry (OLB, Packers), $7.751MM: Declined
  10. A.J. Jenkins (WR): Not applicable due to release
  11. Doug Martin (RB, Buccaneers), $5.621MM: Declined
  12. David Wilson (RB): Not applicable due to retirement
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