I’ve already touched on several of the dated deadlines associated with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell as it relates to the franchise tag over the course of the last few weeks and now it’s time to go over another deadline related to a defensive player on the team who have been asked about several times the last few days.
While Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is currently technically about to enter the final year of his rookie contract on March 9, the team has the right pick up his fifth-year option this offseason being as he was originally drafted in the first round.
On January 2 the option exercise period started for players who were selected in the first-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In order to exercise the fifth-year option, teams must give written notice to the player prior to May 3.
Being as Shazier was drafted outside of the top 10 in 2014, his fifth-year option salary will be an average of the of the third- through 25th-highest salaries at his position. While I dont yet have the estimated amount for Shazier’s fifth-year option, the number last year for linebackers drafted outside of the top 10 in 2013 was $8.369 million. Shazier’s number should obviously come in higher than that.
The Steelers didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on linebacker Jarvis Jones last year and that didn’t come as a surprise. Prior to Jones, however, the Steelers picked up the fifth-year options on defensive end Cameron Heyward in 2014 and guard David DeCastro in 2015. Both players ultimately signed long-term contract extensions the following offseason and that’s expected to be the course of action with Shazier over a year from now, assuming he stays healthy and productive in 2017.
In case you weren’t aware of it, a fifth year option is guaranteed for injury only when it is exercised and it becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the league year in the fifth contract year. I suspect the Steelers will hold off exercising Shazier’s fifth-year option until sometime in late April.