The Bengals will not exercise Billy Price‘s fifth-year option (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). With that, the 2018 first-round draft pick is now on track to reach free agency after the 2021 season.
Price, the No. 21 overall pick in the ’18 draft, struggled as a rookie. The Ohio State product played in just ten games due to a lower leg injury and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst full-time center. When he healed up in 2019, he lost his spot to veteran Trey Hopkins, a one-time UDFA.
This past season, Price was healthy and able to dress for all 16 games, but he started just once. The Bengals’ decision was no surprise — keeping Price for 2022 would have cost the Bengals $10.41MM. And, thanks to the latest collective bargaining agreement, that sum would have been fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only.
NFL teams have until May 3 to pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders. In addition to full guarantees, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a new formula which accounts for the player’s position, initial draft placement, accolades, and playing time.