The New England Patriots have until May 3rd to pick up the fifth-year option of recently acquired WR Brandin Cooks. Cooks was the 20th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft and all first round picks have that fifth-year option baked into their rookie deals.
Teams have already started to pick up the options, including the Texans with first overall pick EDGE Jadeveon Clowney and the Buccaneers with seventh overall pick WR Mike Evans.
The fifth-year option comes in two different flavors: one expensive option for players selected in the top 10, and then one less expensive option for the other players drafted in the first round. Cooks falls into the latter category.
Per CBS Sports’ Joel Corry, Cooks’ fifth-year option will cost the Patriots $8,459,000, versus $13,258,000 for wide receivers selected in the top 10.
The Patriots have no need to pick up the option until May 3rd, but the team is expected to retain Cooks for the added year. Without the fifth-year option, Cooks would be a free agent after this upcoming 2017 season and it would be a major surprise if the Patriots acquired Cooks for a first round pick and only planned on keeping him for one season.
This option price tag for Cooks makes his contract with the Patriots effectively a 2-year, $10 million deal, assuming the team picks up the fifth-year.
If Cooks plays for the Patriots in 2018 with an $8.459 million cap hit, he would take up a projected 4.75% of the salary cap. Over the past decade, that sort of cap expenditure has been reserved for QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Wes Welker, WR Randy Moss, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, RT Sebastian Vollmer, LT Nate Solder, RG Brian Waters, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont’a Hightower, LB Adalius Thomas, DL Richard Seymour, DL Vince Wilfork, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Stephon Gilmore, and FS Devin McCourty.
Most of those 17 players are considered to be at the top five of their position with an All Pro distinction or two on their resume. Does Cooks deserve to be mentioned with these players?
We’ll find out in 2017.