The Pittsburgh Steelers now have one week to decide whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option on outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and as expected, general manager Kevin Colbert refused to say Monday during the team’s annual pre-draft conference which way the organization is leaning when it comes to their former first-round draft pick.
“We won’t talk about specific contract-type issues, but I think it is safe to say once we get through the draft, it will affect how we do business with our veteran players from that point forward,” said Colbert when asked if the upcoming draft will ultimately play a role in the decision on Jones. “There’s always times when we talk about contracts up until training camp, but usually not before that unless we are dealing with unrestricted free agents.”
When asked if that decision must be made by Monday or Tuesday of next week, Colbert again used the company line.
“Again, we avoid talking about individual contacts and fifth-year options, but I think the dates are May 2nd or 3rd,” said Colbert.
In so many words, it seems as though what happens in the upcoming draft might very well play a factor when it comes to the decision the Steelers need to make with Jones, but should it?
Last year, the Steelers picked up the fifth-year option on guard David DeCastro several weeks before the draft took place and that was roughly the same time frame for defensive end Cameron Heyward two years ago.
I should note, however, that at the time of this post that only seven other teams have exercised their fifth-year options on their qualified players, so the Steelers certainly aren’t alone when it comes to their delayed decision this year.
It’s obvious that the Steelers don’t have the same amount confidence in Jones that they did with DeCastro and Heyward and quite frankly, you can’t blame them.
Even though the Steelers have seemed to mostly ignore the outside linebacker position as a whole during the pre-draft process, doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t wind up selecting one in the early rounds. Take Eastern Kentucky product Noah Spence for example. Should he ultimately wind up falling to the Steelers in the first round, it might be tough for them to pass him up even though he has character concerns.
Let’s assume, however, that the Steelers ultimately ignore the outside linebacker position in the first three or four rounds of the draft, will that result in them reluctantly picking up Jones’ fifth-year option? We’ll see.
In my opinion, enough is already known about Jones at this point that the decision should have already be made as to whether or not his option year should be picked up. It almost feels like they are going into this decision with a willing-to-settle-for attitude.
Perhaps Jones should be in front of his television this weekend come time for the Steelers to make their picks as it sounds like his future in Pittsburgh relies on the early-round selections.
If indeed picked up, Jones’ fifth-year option will result in him being scheduled to earn $8.369 million in 2016. That amount would then be guaranteed for injury only until the start of the 2017 league year. If still on the roster come that time, the $8.369 million then becomes fully guaranteed. If cut prior to that date, Jones would then become a street free agent and thus would no longer qualify in the league’s compensatory formula.