The deadline for NFL teams to exercise their fifth-year option on players selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft is tomorrow, and the Minnesota Vikings have made their decisions on both of the players they selected in Round 1 that year.
As had been speculated previously, the team has informed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater that they would not be exercising the fifth-year option on his contract, an option that would have cost the Vikings somewhere around $12 million for the 2018 season. We’ll get into that deeper here shortly.
The team has, however, chosen to pick up the fifth-year option on the contract of linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr, who was taken with the 9th overall pick in 2014, will have a salary of $12.036 million. Because he was selected in the top ten, the figure for Barr’s option is based on the “transition player” price for players at his position.
Of course, Barr’s option year is only guaranteed in the case of injury, meaning that if the Vikings chose to cut him before the start of the 2018 league year in March, they could do so without taking any sort of salary cap hit.
The injury guarantee, presumably, is a big part of the reason that Bridgewater’s option was not picked up. Going back to what we saw with Sharrif Floyd’s issue, because he was still considered to be injured at the start of the 2017 league year this past March, the Vikings were unable to cut him, and therefore have to pay Floyd his fifth-year salary of around $6.75 million whether he sets foot on the field this season or not.
Floyd’s situation was unavoidable, because he wound up getting injured after the Vikings had picked up his option. In Bridgewater’s case, the team already knows that he’s injured. Given the uncertainty of Bridgewater’s situation at this point in time, the Vikings made the decision that they simply couldn’t risk being on the hook for around $12 million in 2018 and not be completely sure that Bridgewater would be able to play. Of course, we’ve speculated that the verbiage of the Collective Bargaining Agreement could give the Vikings a second shot at Bridgewater’s option depending upon his status and his progress during the 2017 season.
Neither of these decisions by the Vikings were terribly surprising, but at least now they’re official.