In the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed to by the NFL ownership on Thursday, fifth-year options for former first-round picks would become fully guaranteed when exercised by the team.
All first-round picks signs four-year contracts with a team option for the fifth season. Those options have to be exercised after the player’s third full season in the NFL. According to the fact sheet about the proposal sent to players and agents by the NFLPA Thursday evening, exercising the fifth-year option would result in the fourth and fifth years of the deal becoming guaranteed. Under the current CBA, the fifth-year option is currently guaranteed for injury only.
Additionally, the value of the option itself is no longer tied specifically to draft position and escalators exist for the option to increase based on the performance of the player. For instance, a player that makes the Pro Bowl twice in his first three season would see the valuation of the option increase to the level of the franchise tag for his position. As it currently sits, players in the top 10 picks of the draft have their option value set at the transition tag amount for their position. Picks 11-32 in the first round get a value equal to an average of the third-to-25th ranked salaries for their position.
With the fact sheet saying the option compensation is no longer tied to draft slot, it would seem likely that all 32 picks in the first round would get the initial transition tag valuation for the option year unless they perform well enough to increase the amount to franchise tag levels.