5 NFL teams who will regret not picking up the fifth-year option for 2021

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /
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Haason Reddick, Arizona Cardinals
Haason Reddick, Arizona Cardinals. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

These five NFL teams will regret not picking up their fifth-year option for 2021.

Every offseason, NFL teams have to make tough decisions regarding former first-round picks. If a player performed up to lofty expectations, then there really isn’t much of an issue. He’s going to be extended if he hasn’t already. When a former first-round pick enters year four in the league, the team who owns his rights can either extend a fifth-year option or not.

The reason this is so important is it gives the franchise this guy plays for the luxury both letting him know he’s valued, as well as open up some capital to pay other guys who need some financial love. Only former first-round picks can receive a fifth-year option. So every offseason, 32 decisions are made league-wide: Is he getting the fifth-year option or not?

Many times, it’s incredibly obvious what direction a team goes in. Teams like the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs were going to extend the option to star quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, respectively. On the other side of the coin, there was no way the Chicago Bears were going to pay Mitchell Trubisky for a fifth-year option mediocre quarterbacking.

While some teams know exactly what they’re doing because the decision was so obvious, others find themselves on the fence. By declining the option, these teams have made a bold decision to potentially part ways with a guy only after four years of NFL service. Surely, they can re-sign him next offseason to a new deal, but they’ll be competing with everyone else for his services.

Here are five teams who may regret not picking up the fifth-year option for 2021.

Five NFL teams who should have picked up the fifth-year option.

Pick Analysis. NFC. West. Arizona Cardinals. 5. Scouting Report. player. 32

The Arizona Cardinals may know what they’re doing in the middle of their defense, but general manager Steve Keim’s drafting track record comes into question. Arizona used its No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Temple Owls safety Haason Reddick. He crushed it at the Senior Bowl, so no doubt former head coach Bruce Arians would draft someone who was Temple Tough.

The problem for Reddick is he played for three head coaches in three seasons. Arians retired after 2017. Steve Wilks’ one year was a disaster. Now he’s entering year two under the offensive-minded Kliff Kingsbury. Though he may finally have continuity in Vance Joseph’s defense in year two, the Cardinals drafted Reddick’s replacement in Clemson Tigers linebacker Isaiah Simmons.

So Arizona drafted a high-end Group of 5 prospect and converted him from a strong safety into an inside linebacker hybrid. Simmons may be more of a schematic fit for this prototype, but it’s yet another position group Arizona has doubled-down on after getting less than desirable results. While it may be Reddick’s last year in Arizona, the Cardinals may regret losing him in free agency.

Will Simmons be a hit? We think so, but the issue is Reddick has two teams he can go to that will make the Cardinals look stupid for letting him go: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers. Arians and former Cardinals defensive coordinator are in Tampa. Reddick’s former college coach Matt Rhule just took over in Charlotte. 2020 may be bleak, but his 2021 looks bright.