The fifth-year option is not something that comes of all that often for the Seattle Seahawks, who have consistently traded down or out of the first round over the last seven years, but 2019 is an exception. Barring an unexpected trade, the Seahawks will have to make a decision on right tackle Germain Ifedi by May 3 as far as if they want to ensure themselves the right to keep him under team control through 2020. It would seem like an easy choice to retain a former first rounder who has started 44 games in three seasons, but it may be hard to reconcile with the idea that Ifedi is as valuable on the field as the fifth-year option would cost the team.
Seattle’s had the right to exercise Ifedi’s option since December 31, but the deadline doesn’t come for another five months so there’s no reason to rush it. What would it cost? The rule goes that a top-10 pick will be paid the average of the top-10 paid players at their position while picks 11-32 get the average of players ranked 3-25 in salary. Someone smarter than me could calculate what that would mean for a tackle in 2019, but nothing is set in stone and the NFL will announce those figures at a later date; last year, it was revealed on April 20.
In 2018, 20 of 32 fifth-year options were exercised, which was the same figure as 2017. Of course, this gets less likely the further you go down the list: from picks 26-32, only Byron Jones and Damarious Randall had their options picked up, and Randall was traded from the Green Bay Packers to the Cleveland Browns shortly before — the Packers weren’t going to pick it up. Both players are also DBs and both were transitioning to new positions, Jones from safety to corner and Randall from corner to safety. Oddly, that means that Randall is getting paid $9 million next season (if the Browns don’t cut him, which they can as the fifth-year option holds zero guarantees other than injury guarantees) while Jones is only getting about $6 million, and those are the positions they didn’t play, not the positions they did.
Moving back to Ifedi and offensive tackles.
The NFL classifies all offensive linemen the same as far as fifth-year options go and last year that meant a salary of $9.625 million for players picked outside of the top 10. Andrus Peat and D.J. Humphries had their options picked up while Cam Erving, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Laken Tomlinson did not. Erving and Tomlinson are no longer with the teams that drafted them, while Ogbuehi spent most of the season as a healthy scratch for the Cincinnati Bengals. Humphries was a risky one as he missed all of his rookie season plus 11 more games in 2017, but the Arizona Cardinals picked up his option anyway; Humphries played in nine games and then went on injured reserve, so I assume his 2019 salary is now guaranteed just as Blake Bortles’ was for the Jacksonville Jaguars when he got hurt at the end of 2018.