The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement gave all NFL teams the opportunity to exercise a first round draft selection's optional fifth contract year after the player's third year in the league. This year, teams had to exercise or decline the options for their 2013 first rounders until yesterday. Of the 32 first round selections that year, 17 saw their respective teams exercise the fifth-year option, 12 saw them decline, while three were ineligible.
One of the teams to decline the option were the New England Patriots.
The Patriots originally traded away their 2013 first round pick (#29) to the Minnesota Vikings, who selected wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (whose option was declined). In return, New England received four picks which the team turned into linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerback Logan Ryan, wide receiver Josh Boyce, and – via the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – running back LeGarrette Blount.
However, the Patriots acquired a player drafted in the first round in 2013 as part of the deal that sent Pro Bowl defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals. New England received a 2016 second round pick, which was traded to the New Orleans Saints and turned into guard Joe Thuney and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
New England also received guard Jonathan Cooper, who was selected with the seventh overall pick in 2013 – one of the players eligible to see a fifth contract year exercised. However, according to Ian Rapoport, the Patriots have declined to do so:
#Patriots are declining the fifth-year option on G Jonathan Cooper, who they acquired in a trade with the #AZ Cardinals.
It was expected that the Patriots do not exercise the $11.9 million option. After all, Cooper did not live up to his expectations in Arizona and now enters a completely new environment in New England, making it impossible to predict his future performance. This means that the 26-year old will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Cooper will enter his first summer in Foxboro in a fierce competition for a roster spot and subsequent playing time: he is joined at the guard position by 2016 draft picks Joe Thuney and Ted Karras, by 2015 draft picks Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson, as well as by veterans Josh Kline and Chris Barker.
Cooper is one of 12 2013 first round picks, whose contract options were not exercised by their clubs:
QB E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills
OG Jonathan Cooper, New England Patriots
CB Dee Milliner, New York Jets
FS Matt Elam, Baltimore Ravens
LB Barkevious Mingo, Cleveland Browns
LB Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers
OT Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville Jaguars
OG Chance Warmack, Tennessee Titans
CB D.J. Hayden, Oakland Raiders
DT Sylvester Williams, Denver Broncos
DE Datone Jones, Green Bay Packers
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
17 players saw their fifth year contract options exercised by their respective teams:
DT Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
TE Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
OT Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs
OG D.J. Fluker, San Diego Chargers
OC Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
OG Justin Pugh, New York Giants
OT Kyle Long, Chicago Bears
DE Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit Lions
DT Sharrif Floyd, Minnesota Vikings
CB Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota Vikings
CB Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons
DT Star Lotulelei, Carolina Panthers
FS Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints
FS Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers
WR Tavon Austin, Los Angeles Rams
LB Alec Ogletree, Los Angeles Rams
Three more players were ineligible for a fifth-year option:
DE Dion Jordan, Miami Dolphins (suspended)
DE Bjoern Werner, Indianapolis Colts (released)
OT Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles (contract extension)