On Monday, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell signed his restricted free agent tender and now with a little more than one week remaining until the 2017 NFL Draft gets underway in Philadelphia, the team really doesn’t have much to focus on other that.
Outside of making their draft selections, the Steelers next offseason business decision will likely include them picking up the fifth-year option on linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is now in the final year of his rookie contract. The deadline for that decision is May 3rd and at this point it would be surprising if they didn’t exercise their option on the Ohio State product and 15th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Shazier’s fifth-year option amount for the 2018 season figures to be around $9 million and that amount will be the average of the third- through 25th-highest salaries at his position being as he was selected outside of the top 10 in 2014. Currently, Shazier is slated to earn $1,716,438 in 2017.
While Shazier has missed 14 regular season games so far during his career with various injuries, last year he played in 10 straight regular season games and all three playoff contest after missing three games early in the season with a knee injury. He finished the 2016 regular season with 87 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 9 total passes defensed. Shazier also registered two interceptions during the playoffs for the Steelers to go along with 18 total tackles.
Assuming the Steelers do ultimately pick up Shazier’s fifth-year option between now and May 3, it will be guaranteed for injury only until it becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2018 league year next March. From there, the Steelers will likely look to sign Shazier to a long-term contract extension before the start of the 2018 regular season.
Steelers guard David DeCastro was the last Pittsburgh former first-round draft pick to have his fifth-year option exercised and that happened on April 9, 2015, which was several weeks before the 2015 NFL Draft took place. The year prior, the Steelers exercised their fifth-year option on defensive end Cameron Heyward on Apr 22, 2014, which was roughly two weeks before the 2014 NFL Draft took place.
Last year the Steelers chose not to pick up the option on now-former linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was drafted by the team in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Georgia.