Buccaneers To Pick Up Vita Vea’s Fifth-Year Option

It’s about that time of year where we’ll start to hear a lot of decisions on the fifth-year options of first-round picks from the 2018 draft class, and we got a significant one on Thursday.

The Buccaneers will pick up the fifth-year option on Vita Vea‘s contract, GM Jason Licht said Thursday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Unlike in previous years, many of these option decisions won’t be no-brainers or formalities. That’s because starting with this cycle, the fifth-year options are now fully guaranteed. They had previously been guaranteed for injury only.

That means teams will be a lot less loose with picking up these fifth-year options, and it also means Vea’s salary for 2022 will become fully guaranteed when they pick it up. That salary will be about $7.64MM for the Bucs. It’s a significant commitment for two years from now, but it’s also still a very good deal compared to what Vea would fetch on the open market.

The defensive tackle was a huge part of Tampa’s defense last year, and was a massive disruptor before going down with a serious ankle injury after five games. Originally believed to be lost for the season, Vea battled his way back and improbably returned for the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.

Vea, the 12th overall pick of the 2018 draft, started all 16 games in 2019, finishing with 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three passes defended. He had two sacks in only four-plus games in 2020, and was looking dominant before the injury.

Teams have until May 3rd to make their fifth-year option decisions on 2018 first-rounders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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