April 27, 2015
The Eagles announced Monday that they have picked up the fifth-year option in 2016 for Fletcher Cox, which was a no-brainer decision. For those of you unfamiliar with the "fifth-year option," Joel Corry of CBS Sports explained it rather succinctly a few weeks ago:
The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement's adoption of a rookie wage scale changed the way rookies are compensated, especially at the top of the NFL Draft. All deals for draft choices are four years. These contracts can't be renegotiated until the conclusion of a player's third regular season. This means players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft are eligible to sign new deals.
Teams have an option for a fifth year with first-round picks. The window for exercising options starts after a player's third regular season in the NFL ends (Dec. 29, 2014 with the 2012 first round picks). The deadline to pick up the option year is May 3, which is the day after the conclusion of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The 2014 offseason was the first year that NFL teams had to make a decision on first round picks they drafted three years prior. However, a deeper understanding of the fifth-year option was unnecessary for Eagles fans at the time, since the Eagles' 2011 first-round draft pick was epic bust Danny Watkins, who was already off the team.
This year, it is far more relevant to understand the fifth-year option because the Eagles' 2012 first-round pick was Cox. With the Eagles picking up that option, Cox will make $7,799,000 for the 2016 season.
Cox has been rumored to be potential trade bait in a package to move up in the draft for Marcus Mariota. The Eagles may or may not move up for Mariota, however, the Eagles exercising Cox's fifth-year option has virtually no bearing on whether or not he will be traded. For one, Cox's 2016 salary is not guaranteed. Secondly, it would be a no-brainer decision for any team trading for Cox to use exercise the fifth-year option for him all the same.
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