The New England Patriots shipped a 2019 third round pick to the Cleveland Browns for former 12th overall pick defensive tackle Danny Shelton and a 2018 fifth round pick. Shelton is entering his fourth season in the league and the Patriots had the option to pick up a fifth year of his contract.
They’ve declined that option, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Patriots aren't planning to pick up the fifth-year option on DT Danny Shelton, per source. Doesn't mean team won't try to sign him to long-term deal when he becomes free agent after 2018 season.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) May 2, 2018
The fifth-year option would have cost the Patriots $7.15 million in 2019, but the team also has to consider whether or not they’ll pick up the fifth-year option of fellow 2015 first round pick defensive tackle Malcom Brown. The Patriots should be much more inclined to pay Brown because of his proven ability in the New England defense.
It is not known if the Patriots have picked up Brown’s option at the point of publishing.
The price tag of Shelton’s and Brown’s fifth-year would place them as the 25th-highest paid player at their position in the NFL, but there is a large window with only two defensive tackles on a multi-year deal between $5-9 million per year (Allen Bailey and DaQuan Jones).
The top defensive tackles earn more than $9 million per year and there’s a real chance that the Patriots might not value Brown in that category. In fact, he seems to fit well into that window between $5-9 million per year and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots and Brown reached an extension in that range.
But as long as the Patriots are able to sign contributors like Lawrence Guy for $3.35 million per year, they’ll be unlikely to pay a newcomer like Shelton a price tag of $7.15 million. If Shelton plays well in 2018, then the Patriots might be willing to pay him- but even if he has a great year, it’s unlikely his 2019 price tag will surpass $7 million.
UPDATE: According to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, the Patriots did not pick up the option for Shelton, Brown, or fellow 2015 first round wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. It’s no surprise why they didn’t pick it up for Dorsett, but it seems that the Patriots value Brown’s production as less than $7 million per year at this point in time.