PFR’s NFL Glossary: The Fifth-Year Option

Every year, NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on first-round picks who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are now fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:


  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

This year, some believed that we’d see less players have their options exercised due to the full guarantee. Instead, 20 out of 32 players had their options picked up. (Really, 21/32, when considering Kolton Miller’s extension with the Raiders):

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Exercised ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Exercised ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Exercised ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Exercised ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A (traded/released from original rookie deal)
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Exercised ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Declined ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Declined ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Exercised ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Declined ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Declined ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Declined ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Declined ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Declined ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Declined ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

Last year, only 17 players from the 2017 class saw their fifth-year options exercised for the 2021 season. Meanwhile, the 2016 class saw 20 options exercised. So, even with the 100% guarantee, things panned out roughly the same this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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