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NFL fifth-year option tracker: Chargers lock in Justin Herbert through 2024; 49ers decline option for DT

The 2020 NFL Draft has become one of the more pivotal drafts in recent memory with a number of the game’s most notable players coming out that year, including the likes of Joe Burrow, Justin Hebert, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Jefferson. Now, those players who were selected in the first round are reaching a pivotal mile-marker in their young careers. 

NFL teams have until Tuesday, May 2 to exercise the fifth-year option on the rookie contracts of their first-round picks from the 2020 NFL Draft. This maneuver will ensure that the player would be under team control through the 2024 season. Tagovailoa was the first in this class to have his fifth-year option deployed with the Dolphins locking him in and several other players are expected to follow. 

Below, you’ll find the 28 first-rounders from that 2020 class who are eligible for the fifth-year option and whether or not their team decided to utilize it. 

Fifth-year option tracker

Dolphins pick up option on Tagovailoa

Miami was the first team to use the fifth-year option on a player in this class, keeping quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in-house through 2024. The former fifth-overall pick is coming off a breakout season in 2022 where he led the NFL in yards per attempt (8.9) and passer rating (105.5). However, Tagovailoa’s season was limited to just 13 games due to concussions. As it relates to a potential long-term extension beyond the fifth-year option, GM Chris Grier did highlight Tagovailoa’s health as a factor, but added “it’s not something that is going to make us afraid to do something long-term with him.”

Cowboys pick up Lamb’s option

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CeeDee Lamb is coming off one of the most prolific seasons in Cowboys history in 2022. His 107 catches were the third-most by a Cowboy in a single season and his 1,359 receiving yards were the fifth-most. Naturally, Dallas wants to keep that type of weapon around going forward, so the fifth-year option was a logical next step. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones also made note of a possible extension for Lamb saying that is on the team’s radar and views him as a player “we’d love to have around here for another five, six years.”

Vikings pick up Jefferson’s option

One of the most productive young receivers in NFL history, Jefferson is the building block around which the Vikings will lay the foundation for their future. Jefferson is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards, and he was named both a First Team All-Pro and Offensive Player of the Year. There was never a doubt that his option would be picked up

Bengals pick up Burrow’s option

If there were any player whose option was even more of a guarantee than Jefferson’s to be picked up, it was Burrow. He’s already emerged as an inner-circle MVP candidate, and took the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl in just his second NFL season. Burrow is more likely than not to get a significant contract extension fairly soon, but picking up the option is the first step in beginning the extension process. 

Buccaneers pick up Wirfs’ option

The Buccaneers were another team with a no-brainer decision as it relates to the fifth-year option with offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. The 24-year-old and former No. 13 overall pick has been stellar along Tampa Bay’s offensive line. In three seasons at right tackle, he’s allowed just five sacks on 3,186 offensive snaps. Heading into 2023, there is the possibility of Wirfs making the swift over to left tackle, making him even more valuable to the franchise.  

Commanders don’t pick up Young’s option

Young was considered the “best prospect” in the class due to his outrageously productive collegiate career at Ohio State. After a strong rookie year during which he finished with 7.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl, Young has struggled with injuries and appeared in just 12 games, totaling 1.5 sacks and five quarterback hits. Due to his having made the Pro Bowl, Young’s fifth-year option would have been fully guaranteed at $17.5 million, and Washington apparently felt that was too rich. If Young has a bounceback season, he could get a big deal on the open market next winter — whether in Washington or elsewhere.

Chargers pick up Herbert’s option

Similar to Joe Burrow, this was a no-brainer decision for the Chargers and will likely only be a placeholder until these two sides can hammer out terms on a long-term extension. Herbert is eligible to ink an extension this offseason and with both Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson’s contract situations out of the way, the road is clear for him to go to the negotiating table (along with Burrow). Herbert quickly solidified himself as a franchise quarterback for L.A., setting NFL records as a rookie for most touchdown passes, passing yards per game and completions. He’s also thrown for at least 4,300 yards in each of his first three seasons. 

49ers pick up Aiyuk’s option

San Francisco solidified that Aiyuk will be under team control through the 2024 season by picking up his fifth-year option. That said, it will be interesting to monitor his future with the 49ers as GM John Lynch was pretty candid about the possibility of moving on from him due to committments elsewhere on the roster. 

“You can’t keep everyone, we’re trying to do something special this year and Brandon is going to be a big part of that and beyond as well,” Lynch said earlier this offseason. “And so yes, you always have to think out a few years, but we’re really excited about Brandon. I feel like he made another big step last year, and I think the best is yet to come and so we want him to be a part of it and at some point, yeah, you have to figure things out and I guess we’ll take that as it comes, but as of right now and into the future, we’re really excited about Brandon Aiyuk and where he is at as a pro.”

Aiyuk is coming off a career-year in 2022 where he set highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. 

Falcons pick up A.J. Terrell’s option

Atlanta has locked in one of its key players in the secondary by picking up Terrell’s fifth-year option, which will pay him roughly $12.3 million for the 2024 season. The Clemson product has proven to be one of the better young corners in the NFL, earning a second-team All-Pro nod back in 2021. Terrell was limited to 14 games last season due to a hamstring injury, but only allowed 56% of the targets against him to be completed. 

Chargers do not pick up Kenneth Murray’s option

Los Angeles will not pick up the fifth-year option on Kenneth’s Murray’s rookie contract. The linebacker was the team’s second first-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft after Herbert. The team traded up with the New England Patriots to select the Oklahoma product, but he hasn’t exactly lived up to his draft billing. To this point, Murray’s tenure has been a bit underwhelming, so it doesn’t make much sense to guarantee more than $11.7 million for 2024. In 17 games played last season, Murray totaled 76 tackles and one sack. 

49ers do not pick up Javon Kinlaw’s option

49ers GM John Lynch confirmed Friday that the club will not be picking up the fifth-year option on Javon Kinlaw’s rookie contract. The former No. 14 overall pick has only played 24 games over the first three years of his career, so the team deciding against picking up the option isn’t all too surprising. He was limited to just six games last year and totaled four tackles. Lynch told reporters that he is “still looking for great things from Javon. Javon’s having an outstanding offseason. He’s in a great place, and he’s excited about what’s to come, as are we for him.”

Browns pick up Jedrick Wills’ option

Cleveland has elected to pick up the fifth year option on Wills, ensuring that they’ll have their starting left tackled under team control through the 2024 season. Wills will make a base salary of $14.175 on that fifth-year option. Wills started all 17 games for the Browns last season and allowed six sacks on 1,152 offensive snaps. 

Panthers pick up Derrick Brown’s option

Carolina has picked up Browns option and the defensive lineman is now set to make $11.6 million in base salary for the 2024 season. The former No. 7 overall pick is coming off arguably the best season of his career in 2022 where he totaled a career-high 67 tackles and seven pass breakups in 17 games played. He also matched a career-best with 12 quarterback hits. 

Panthers decline C.J. Henderson’s option

Henderson was originally drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was acquired by the Panthers in 2021 and the club has now decided against picking up his fifth-year option. This means Henderson is now set to become a free agent next offseason after a 2023 season where he’ll make $3.4 million in base salary. In 17 games played last season (10 starts), Henderson totaled 58 tackles and six pass breakups to go along with two interceptions.  

Saints do not pick up Cesar Ruiz’s option

Ruiz will now be entering the final year of his rookie deal and is slated to hit free agency after this season with the Saints declining his fifth-year option. Ruiz’s option would have paid him just over $14 million fully guaranteed in 2024. Ruiz played in 14 games (all starts) for the Saints last season primarily at right guard. 

Broncos pick up Jerry Jeudy’s option

Denver is continuing to build to the future with Jeudy in mind despite plenty of trade rumors. The club has picked up his fifth-year option, locking the wideout in through the 2024 season. Jeudy will make just under $13 million guaranteed in 2024. The former No. 15 overall pick out of Alabama is coming off a career-year in 2022 despite Denver struggling as a club. Jeudy set highs in receptions, receivng yards and receiving touchdowns. However, he has yet to register a 1,000-yard receiving season to this point. 

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