Fifth-Year Option Tracker: Analyzing the most interesting decisions, including Chase Young and Jordan Love

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) in action against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

• Pair of surprises at linebacker: The Seahawks' Jordyn Brooks and the Ravens' Patrick Queen both had their options declined despite showing promise.

• Commanders decline Chase Young's option: The most fascinating decision facing any team on this list, Young is a key member of a defensive line chock-full of talented players who have either already signed extensions or are soon due for big money.

• Packers instead opt to retain Jordan Love on an extension: The Packers seemingly leaned more toward declining Love's option with the decision to extend him, but he could still play his way into a sizeable deal.

Estimated Reading Time: 13 mins


The fifth-year option window for 2020 first-round picks came and went without much fanfare. But with just 12 options exercised, the class set a new low mark by a wide margin. The average since 2011 has been around 20 per class, including the 2018 and 2019 groups under the same rules as the 2020 class with the options now fully guaranteed at exercise.

Some have sharply pointed out that this 2020 class had its pre-draft process disrupted by the pandemic, which perhaps made it more challenging for clubs to get a good sense of each player and person. Without doing a full-scale deep dive to explore that idea further, it does appear to have some merit:

Draft Class Options exercised* Players exceeding 50th percentile WAR expectation
2011 19 17
2012 20 14
2013 18 12
2014 23 22
2015 19 13
2016 17 17
2017 18 20
2018 22 19
2019 19 16
2020 12 14

*Includes players who were extended at an average annual value greater than the option amount in the same offseason as the option decision

The 2020 class had five fewer options exercised than any prior group and came in well below the 19 in 2019 and 22 in 2018 under the same rules. While 2020 was tied for the third-fewest players to exceed the 50th-percentile WAR outcome expectation for their draft slot, you can see in 2012, 2013 and 2015 how teams were more willing to look past some struggles out of the gate. Chicago Bears edge defender Leonard Floyd, the No. 9 overall pick in 2015,  had his option exercised and then was cut prior to the 2019 season, an illustration of how the new rules change the calculus for clubs.

With that said, we lay out each decision and highlight some of the more interesting results across the league.


PICK NO. 1: CINCINNATI BENGALS: QB JOE BURROW

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 92.4 (4th/62)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 11.0 (4th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $29,504,000 (1 Pro Bowl)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 2: WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: EDGE CHASE YOUNG

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 87.2 (12th/189)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.58 (18th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $17,452,000 (1 Pro Bowl)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Declined

This was the most fascinating decision facing any team on this list for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, the Commanders extended interior defender Daron Payne this offseason to the tune of $90 million across four years, one offseason after signing Jonathan Allen to a four-year, $72 million extension. 2019 first-round edge defender Montez Sweat is entering his fifth-year option season in 2023 coming off a career-high 86.4 grade with 62 quarterback pressures.

Now with Young’s option declined, if Sweat is not extended prior to 2023, both players will be entering contract years. While Young’s knee injury sustained in 2021 cost him a whopping 22 games, he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie for a reason, as his 87.2 overall grade ranked sixth among edge defenders on the season.

This decision looks heavily influenced by the new rules making the 2024 money fully guaranteed, which worked against Washington ultimately exercising the option.


PICK NO. 3: DETROIT LIONS: CB JEFFREY OKUDAH

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 50.1 (180th/213)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.05 (300th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $11,514,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined (Not eligible)

Prior to the deadline, I reported that Okudah had his contract altered to facilitate his trade from Detroit to the Atlanta Falcons. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media sharply pointed out that this contract reworking made Okudah ineligible to have his option picked up by Atlanta. Had Okudah’s entire contract been transferred to the Falcons, they would have been able to exercise the option for 2024. Now, he enters a pivotal contract year.


PICK NO. 4: NEW YORK GIANTS: T ANDREW THOMAS

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 80.8 (22nd/223)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.63 (13th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $14,175,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 5: MIAMI DOLPHINS: QB TUA TAGOVAILOA

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 76.0 (24th/62)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 4.27 (19th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $23,171,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercised
  • Result: Exercised

With Jalen Hurts already extended, and further movement in the quarterback market following the Lamar Jackson contract, it remains to be seen if Miami will work on a multi-year pact with Tagovailoa or continue to go year to year. We’re guessing he enters the 2023 season with his current contract.

The Dolphins were the first team to come out and announce they were exercising the fifth-year option, an important and emphatic statement following a series of concussions to Tagovailoa in 2022 and with speculation swirling about a hypothetical pursuit of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Tagovailoa may not join Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert in potentially receiving huge extensions this offseason, but he certainly earned this option after leading the NFL by over half a yard with 8.6 yards per attempt in 2022.


PICK NO. 6: LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: QB JUSTIN HERBERT

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 89.7 (7th/62)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 9.62 (6th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $29,504,000 (1 Pro Bowl)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 7: CAROLINA PANTHERS: DI DERRICK BROWN

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 74.2 (28th/192)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.48 (17th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $11,665,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 8: ARIZONA CARDINALS: LB ISAIAH SIMMONS

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 59.1 (82nd/144)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.29 (41st)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $12,722,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

Simmons was the first of four off-ball linebacker types drafted in this first-round class, although his role has changed countless times. All four players have logged at least 2,000 snaps over their first three seasons, yet each enters a contract year in 2023. From 2016-2020, there were 14 off-ball linebackers taken in the first round, and none signed an extension with their drafting team. Carolina Panther Shaq Thompson from the 2015 class is the last player to do it.

2019 No. 5 overall pick Devin White did have his option exercised by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason, but he requested a trade in April over reported frustration with a lack of advancement in extension talks. The position is very tough to project from college to the NFL and often has a steep learning curve over the first three-plus years, making it generally a poor investment early in the draft.

After being shuffled around a bit on defense, Simmons appears to have found a home as a box safety/slot player in Arizona, earning a career-best 67.9 grade in 2022 and showing the type of athleticism that made him a top-10 pick with his acrobatic pick-six against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football. New head coach Jonathan Gannon may find a place for him going forward but was willing to let his contract play out in the meantime.


PICK NO. 9: CAROLINA PANTHERS: CB C.J. HENDERSON

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 51.1 (176th/213)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.02 (265th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $11,514,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

PICK NO. 10: CLEVELAND BROWNS: T JEDRICK WILLS JR.

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 64.0 (105/223)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.12 (200th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $14,175,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

Wills is the blindside protector on an offensive line that now has three players signed near the top of their respective position markets, not to mention a quality center in Ethan Pocic who agreed to a solid deal to return in free agency. Wills offers a very high floor as a pass protector, earning three straight grades of 67.9 or better in that facet, and the Browns were smart to push an extension decision out one more offseason as they spend big money across the rest of their roster. This was probably a fairly easy decision, even for a team currently No. 1 in cash spending for 2023 and 2024.


PICK NO. 11: NEW YORK JETS: T MEKHI BECTON

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 74.6 (44th/223)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.08 (66th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $13,565,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

This was probably a tough decision, but especially now that these options are fully guaranteed, the Jets had to think about all the extra money they’re spending on Aaron Rodgers and friends over the next two seasons. There appears to be a disconnect between the coaching staff and Becton about where he should play on the line, as well. He has expressed frustration about not being viewed solely as a left tackle.

Becton showed so much promise as a rookie, earning a 76.0 pass-blocking grade and 73.9 run-blocking grade while displaying rare athletic ability at the NFL level. Unfortunately, he’s played a total of 48 snaps over two years since, and now he enters a prove-it year that could lead to a huge reward.


PICK NO. 13: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: T TRISTAN WIRFS

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 88.6 (4th/223)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.98 (2nd)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $18,244,000 (2 Pro Bowls)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 14: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: DI JAVON KINLAW

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 48.7 (154th/192)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.09 (305th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $10,455,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

PICK NO. 15: DENVER BRONCOS: WR JERRY JEUDY

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 74.1 (58/210)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.40 (57th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $12,987,000
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

Despite what has been said publicly, there remain rumblings that the Denver Broncos would consider moving Jeudy for the right price. A 24-year-old, former top-15 pick coming off a productive season is going to cost a decent amount in trade capital on a very team-friendly deal for $15.67 million total over the next two years. With a few injuries causing Jeudy to miss time early in his career, he has the lowest option amount at just under $13 million, which is low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 wide receiver money at this point on an annual basis.

Despite playing within a horrific passing attack in 2022, Jeudy set career highs across the board and showed why he was taken this early back in 2020, earning a 77.9 receiving grade with 987 receiving yards on 68 receptions (14.5 yards per reception). He averaged a strong 2.18 yards per route run, which ranked tied for 15th among wide receivers. Whether he remains in Denver or does find his way to a new club before Week 1, he has the potential to be a great value the next two seasons.


PICK NO. 16: ATLANTA FALCONS: CB A.J. TERRELL

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 73.8 (t-27th/213)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.86 (19th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $12,344,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 17: DALLAS COWBOYS: WR CEEDEE LAMB

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 87.6 (10th/210)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 1.12 (8th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $17,991,000 (1 Pro Bowl)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 18: MIAMI DOLPHINS: T AUSTIN JACKSON

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 50.2 (133rd/223)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.23 (214th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $14,175,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

PICK NO. 20: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: EDGE K’LAVON CHAISSON

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 47.5 (179th/189)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.20 (305th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $12,141,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

PICK NO. 21: MINNESOTA VIKINGS: WR JALEN REAGOR

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 60.7 (160th/210)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.07 (150th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $12,987,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

PICK NO. 22: MINNESOTA VIKINGS: WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 92.5 (2nd/210)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 1.87 (2nd)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $19,743,000 (2 Pro Bowls)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 23: LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: LB KENNETH MURRAY

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 44.0 (123rd/144)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.14 (270th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $11,727,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

The Chargers signed veteran Eric Kendricks to a two-year deal in free agency and used their third-round pick on Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley, preparing for a potential future without Murray.


PICK NO. 24: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: G CESAR RUIZ

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 57.1 (90th/150)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.19 (228th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $14,175,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

The fifth-year options for interior offensive linemen may experience a downturn under the new rules because it’s tough to justify exercising the fully guaranteed option on a fringe decision with only one set of values for all offensive line positions. Ruiz would’ve been fully guaranteed $14.175 million for 2024, which would’ve ranked in the top 10 in terms of average annual value among guards. If he were a tackle, perhaps this is more palatable, but nevertheless, we believe the Saints when they say this doesn’t necessarily mean they have no interest in working out a multi-year extension for less money per year.

Ruiz hasn’t been a liability thus far in his NFL career by any means, but he also hasn’t exactly been a huge benefit to the offensive line unit. Through three seasons, Ruiz hasn’t earned a pass-blocking or run-blocking grade of at least 65.0 in any year. The learning curve for first-round guards is generally a lot flatter than that of tackle prospects, and if he hasn’t shown much already, it’s possible he won’t take a major leap.


PICK NO. 25: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: WR BRANDON AIYUK

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 83.9 (22nd/210)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.97 (15th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $14,124,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Exercised

PICK NO. 26: GREEN BAY PACKERS: QB JORDAN LOVE

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 47.1* (N/A)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.23* (101st)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $20,272,000
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Extended

*Only 157 total snaps

As expected, this was going to be a tough option decision to predict, and we would view the extension as leaning more toward a decline than an exercise. Love’s base value over 2023-24 with the option exercised would have been $22.57 million. After the extension, it’s $15.8 million with upside. Love secured a raise of $7.5 million for the 2023 season and could, of course, play his way into a big extension, rendering all of this moot. But Green Bay used its leverage well here, certainly appearing to weaponize the threat of not exercising the option.

The $9 million in escalators Love can add to his 2024 compensation are as follows from Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated:

Only the $500,000 for playing 65% of the offensive snaps is relatively easy to attain; the remaining $8.5 million will take a strong season from Love in various categories.

The main priority of both parties here was to protect their downside risk, with Green Bay avoiding a Daniel Jones situation and Love avoiding a poor 2023 performance leading to missing out completely on a post-rookie contract payday. While we haven’t seen the details of the contract yet, we assume the $5.5 million in guaranteed salary for 2024 contains offset language, meaning Green Bay could recoup the amount Love hypothetically earns elsewhere.

The Packers found themselves in this unique position because of their willingness to let a rookie contract quarterback develop for multiple years behind a veteran starter, a strategy that clearly worked wonders with Love’s predecessor in Aaron Rodgers. Love’s story is not written just yet, but based on this extension in lieu of the option, Green Bay protected itself about as well as possible.


PICK NO. 27: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: LB JORDYN BROOKS

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 52.5 (84th/144)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.58 (16th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $12,722,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Declined

Brooks tore his ACL in January, putting his Week 1 status in question and most likely flipping this decision from a yes to a no. Seattle reunited with franchise legend Bobby Wagner on a one-year deal, but make no mistake, Brooks is the future at off-ball linebacker for the Seahawks. His 61 defensive stops in 2022 were tied for sixth most among off-ball linebackers, demonstrating his great sideline-to-sideline range in run defense, in addition to his known strength as a downhill player.

Even with the injury, we were somewhat surprised by this outcome.


PICK NO. 28: BALTIMORE RAVENS: LB PATRICK QUEEN

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 44.5 (120th/144)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.10 (84th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $12,722,000 (Playtime escalator)
  • PFF Prediction: Exercise
  • Result: Declined

The Ravens traded for former Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith at this past year’s deadline and subsequently made him the highest-paid player at his position early in the offseason, which made this an interesting decision. Queen took a major step forward in 2022, earning a 70.0 overall grade and racking up 24 quarterback pressures and five sacks. However, it’s interesting to note that his grades received a boost following Smith's arrival. Baltimore still seemingly began to move on from Queen in their mind once making the blockbuster acquisition at the trade deadline.


PICK NO. 30: MIAMI DOLPHINS: CB NOAH IGBINOGHENE

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 40.1 (209th/213)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.15 (349th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $11,514,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined

PICK NO. 32: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: HB CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE

  • PFF grade, 2020-22: 74.4 (48nd/108)
  • PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.26 (27th)
  • Fifth-year option amount: $5,461,000
  • PFF Prediction: Decline
  • Result: Declined
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