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The fifth-year option and Josh Rosen

Posted by Darren Urban on May 2, 2018 – 1:14 pm

The fifth-year team option for NFL teams for their first-round draft picks is always an interesting proposition, and it’s at the forefront of league topics right now since Wednesday is the deadline for team’s to figure out their choice for the 2015 draft picks. The Cardinals already made their call, exercising the option for tackle D.J. Humphries. It’s also part of the story for new first-round pick Josh Rosen, with whom the Cards will have a fifth-year option in 2022.

The Cardinals usually use their option, which began in 2011 after the new collective bargaining agreement came to pass. Of all their first-round picks since then that have come up for the option, the only time the Cards didn’t use it was on guard Jonathan Cooper (who was actually traded to New England for Chandler Jones before the option deadline arrived in 2016.) Patrick Peterson, Michael Floyd, and Deone Bucannon have all had their rookie deals extended to that fifth season — which does jump a player’s salary a good amount depending on their position and draft slot, but does keep the player from free agency another year.

Rosen’s case in a few years will be interesting. As noted in Kyle Odegard’s story today, finding a rookie quarterback to use is the best way for a team to build up its roster because the rookie wage scale makes a QB much cheaper — and there is more room under the cap to get players elsewhere. That’ll be the first four years. Former agent and cap expert Joel Corry does estimate that by 2022, assuming a similar climb in the salary cap, Rosen’s 2022 fifth-year option will be north of $25 million.

If Rosen is the real deal, there is no question the fifth-year option will come into play. (Next year, with Robert Nkemdiche, would seem to come down to his 2018 work.) Because of the timing — and because a player cannot get a contract extension or a new deal until he has played three years in the league — chances are good that Rosen will be optioned. But the Cards might make sure he gets a new deal before it ever kicks in. If Rosen is the player they hope he is.


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