Since the adoption of a new rookie wage scale in the latest collective bargaining agreement in 2011, the fifth-year option has been a way for teams to hang onto successful first-round picks for a fixed price.
And perhaps not surprisingly, considering the results of the first half of this decade, the Browns have struggled.
According to a database compiled by Warren Sharp, the Browns are 0-for-8 so far on players seeing the option years, which underscores why last year’s 7-8-1 feels like such remarkable progress.
They picked up 2011 first-rounder Phil Taylor’s, but cut him before the start of the 2015 season. The players they did not pick up the options for include: Trent Richardson (2012), Brandon Weeden (2012), Barkevious Mingo (2013), Justin Gilbert (2014), Johnny Manziel (2014), Danny Shelton (2015), and Cameron Erving (2015). They won’t exercise 2016 first-rounder Corey Coleman‘s either, since he’s on the Giants roster now. The streak should end when it’s time to do business with 2017 first-rounder Myles Garrett.
Blowing that many premium picks is an easy way to prevent your team from being good for years to come.
The Seahawks are 0-for-2 over the same span, since they so often trade down and out of the first round.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Panthers, Texans, and Chargers are a clean 5-for-5 through the 2015 draft class, while the Falcons are 4-for-4.