Texans Exercise J.J. Watt's Fifth-Year Option on His Rookie Contract
When the NFL players and owners agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the 2011 season, one of the most crucial elements was the implementation of a rookie wage scale.
The rookie cake scale is much sweeter.
The key benefit at the time seemed pretty simple -- the scale would stop the marquee, high draft choice rookies from getting "second contract" money on their first contracts, before they've even played a snap in the league. (Sam Bradford's guarantee of $50 million in 2010 ultimately spoiled the fun for everyone. That seemed to be the rookie contract straw that broke the owners' backs.)
There's still a pecking order with respect to salaries, with the first overall pick making the most and so on down the line, but the starting numbers are far more sensible. That is probably the primary benefit, but it's followed closely by an element that is becoming relevant for the first time this off-season -- the fifth-year option on first-round picks.
Nowhere around the league is this clause more relevant than here in Houston, and Thursday the Texans put it to use, exercising J.J. Watt's fifth-year option for 2015.
The Texans have officially exercised the 5th-year option on DE J.J. Watt for 2015, per source. Deadline to do so was May 3.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 18, 2014
In the simplest terms, here's how the fifth-year option works:
1. Each NFL team has until May 3 to exercise the option.
2. Only first-round picks are eligible for/subject to (depending on your point of view) the fifth-year option.
3. Players drafted between number one overall and number ten overall can be extended for a fifth year at the team's option for a salary equivalent to the transition tender at their position (the average of the top ten salaries). So, for example, when the Panthers ultimately exercise this option on Cam Newton, he will make $14.67 million in 2015.