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    NFL Fifth-Year Option Predictions: Decision Time on Trevor Lawrence, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and Others

    NFL teams have until May 2 to decide on fifth-year options for the 2021 draft class. Let's predict which players will see their contracts extended through 2025.

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    NFL fifth-year option predictions became more complex in 2021 when these options became fully guaranteed. Previously, fifth-year options were only guaranteed for injury, so teams could take a chance on a player knowing they’d be able to release him — barring injury — before the option officially kicked in.

    Let’s run through the 2021 draft class and make fifth-year option predictions for every player selected that year. NFL teams must exercise or decline fifth-year options by May 2, 2024

    NFL Fifth-Year Option Predictions for 2024

    1) Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    While injuries hampered Lawrence in a disappointing 2023 campaign, he’s undoubtedly the Jaguars’ long-term quarterback. Jacksonville will exercise his option but could also agree to a contract extension this offseason. General manager Trent Baalke confirmed last month that talks with Lawrence are ongoing but could take a while.

    Prediction: Exercise ($24.664 million)

    2) Zach Wilson, QB, New York Jets

    Wilson may not even be a Jet by the time the fifth-year option deadline rolls around. New York allowed him to seek a trade this offseason, but no deal has come to fruition. Gang Green signed veteran Tyrod Taylor to back up Aaron Rodgers, leaving Wilson as New York’s QB3 — at best.

    Prediction: Decline ($22.408 million)

    3) Trey Lance, QB, Dallas Cowboys

    Lance’s fifth-year option transferred to the Cowboys when Dallas acquired him from the 49ers last year. Projected to sit behind Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush in 2024, Lance may never get a chance to deliver on the promise that intrigued San Francisco in the 2021 draft.

    Prediction: Decline ($22.408 million)

    4) Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons

    Although Pitts hasn’t been fully healthy over the past two seasons, the upside he demonstrated in his 1,026-yard rookie campaign is more than enough to convince the Falcons to pick up his option, especially at a discounted TE price. Pitts could be poised for another standout season with QB Kirk Cousins in Atlanta.

    Prediction: Exercise ($10.878 million)

    5) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

    Chase has been everything the Bengals hoped for and more since entering the league in 2021. He’s tied for second in receiving touchdowns (29) and ranks seventh in receiving yards (3,717) during that span and should become one of the league’s highest-paid WRs on his next contract.

    How long can Cincinnati keep Joe Burrow, Chase, and Tee Higgins together?

    Prediction: Exercise ($21.816 million)

    6) Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins

    Another no-doubter. Waddle has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in all three seasons of his pro career and led the NFL in yards per reception (18.1).

    Like the Bengals, the Dolphins may have to figure out how to pay two talented wideouts. But Tyreek Hill is already 30 years old, leaving Waddle as Miami’s longer-term option.

    Prediction: Exercise ($15.591 million)

    7) Penei Sewell, OL, Detroit Lions

    Sewell was a home-run pick for the Lions, who boast one of the league’s best offensive lines. Picking up his option is an easy call. Sewell should easily become the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle on his eventual extension and could approach a high-end left tackle salary.

    Prediction: Exercise ($19.04 million)

    8) Jaycee Horn, CB, Carolina Panthers

    While injuries have limited Horn to just 22 of a possible 51 games, he’s looked like an above-average cornerback when healthy. That’s worth $12+ million despite his lack of availability.

    The Panthers don’t have a ton of building blocks and can’t let Horn’s upside walk out the door.

    Prediction: Exercise ($12.472 million)

    9) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos

    Surtain is arguably the top cornerback in the NFL. Jaire Alexander currently leads the CB market with a $21 million salary. Surtain should blow that figure out of the water when he signs an extension with Denver.

    Prediction: Exercise ($19.802 million)

    10) DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

    Smith may be even more revered around the league if he weren’t fighting fellow Eagles wideout A.J. Brown for targets. He’s still been incredibly productive catching passes from Jalen Hurts, reaching 80 catches, 1,000 yards, and seven touchdowns in each of the last two seasons.

    Prediction: Exercise ($15.591 million)

    11) Justin Fields, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Steelers plan to enter the season with Fields backing up Russell Wilson, so there’s no chance they’ll exercise his $25+ million option for 2025. A Jordan Love-like extension that avoids that option altogether but locks Fields in for an extra year could make sense, but would it make things awkward with Wilson?

    Prediction: Decline ($25.664 million)

    12) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys

    Parsons is the best player to emerge from the 2021 draft and the easiest call on the list. He’ll become the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback when he inks an extension with the Cowboys.

    Prediction: Exercise ($24.007 million)

    13) Rashawn Slater, OL, Los Angeles Chargers

    New Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh will overhaul the club’s roster, but Slater is foundational. While he missed all but three games in 2022 after rupturing his biceps tendon, Slater returned last season to offer his usual reliable play at left tackle.

    Prediction: Exercise ($19.04 million)

    14) Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, New York Jets

    Vera-Tucker suffered significant injuries — a torn triceps and a ruptured Achilles — in each of the last two seasons. Still, he’s versatile enough to play any OL position and has shown high-end ability when healthy. Look for GM Joe Douglas to double down on AVT after trading up to draft him in 2021.

    Prediction: Exercise ($15.313 million)

    15) Mac Jones, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    In an odd twist of fate, Jones will back up Lawrence, his 2021 draft classmate, to wrap up his rookie contract. The Jaguars obviously won’t pick up Jones’ option but could be interested in him as a long-term backup if he doesn’t get an opportunity to start elsewhere in 2025.

    Prediction: Decline ($25.664 million)

    16) Zaven Collins, LB, Arizona Cardinals

    The Cardinals moved Collins to the edge in 2023, and while he looked better there than he had as an off-ball linebacker, he didn’t make enough splash plays to warrant a $13+ million guarantee. Arizona GM Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon had no hand in drafting Collins in 2021.

    Prediction: Decline ($13.251 million)

    17) Alex Leatherwood, OL, Free Agent

    Leatherwood spent the 2023 season on the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad but is not currently on an NFL roster.

    Prediction: N/A

    18) Jaelan Phillips, LB, Miami Dolphins

    Phillips is recovering from a Week 12 Achilles injury, but he’s shown too much upside through three pro campaigns for the Dolphins to ignore. The former Hurricane put up 15.5 sacks in 2021-22 and posted 6.5 in eight games last season before going down.

    Prediction: Exercise ($13.251 million)

    19) Jamin Davis, LB, Washington Commanders

    While Davis is a good player with 36 starts for the Commanders, $14+ million is a top-end off-ball LB salary. New Washington GM Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn didn’t draft Collins and signed veteran linebackers Frankie Luvu and Bobby Wagner this offseason. The tea leaves suggest a decline for Davis.

    Prediction: Decline ($14.483 million)

    20) Kadarius Toney, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    Toney made several impact plays during the Chiefs’ 2022 Super Bowl run but has since become a problem on and off the field. There’s almost no chance Kansas City will commit to another year of Toney.

    Prediction: Decline ($14.435 million)

    21) Kwity Paye, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts

    Paye outperformed his underlying metrics in 2023, managing 8.5 sacks while posting only nine QB hits. But he’s a starting-caliber edge defender who’s been consistently available and reliable. The Colts don’t have much pass-rushing depth, so Paye makes sense at this price point.

    Prediction: Exercise ($13.387 million)

    22) Caleb Farley, CB, Tennessee Titans

    Farley tore his ACL in 2022 and has been hindered by a nerve issue that affects his back and leg. He’s played in just 12 games and made two starts since being drafted.

    Prediction: Decline ($12.472 million)

    23) Christian Darrisaw, OL, Minnesota Vikings

    The biggest home run of the back third of Round 1, Darrisaw should be Minnesota’s blindside protector for years to come. The Vikings have other items on their plate, like trading up to draft a franchise QB or working out an extension with Justin Jefferson. But a new deal for Darrisaw is on the horizon.

    Prediction: Exercise ($16.037 million)

    24) Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Although Harris isn’t the most explosive running back, he’s posted at least 1,000 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in each of his three NFL campaigns.

    MORE: NFL Free Agency 2024 — 15 Best One-Year Deals

    He can work in the passing game as a receiver and protector, and Pittsburgh will likely view Harris’ sub-$7 million option as a bargain.

    Prediction: Exercise ($6.79 million)

    25) Travis Etienne Jr., RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Etienne’s responsibilities within the Jaguars’ offense have steadily grown since he missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc injury. He handled 325 touches in 2023, third-most in the NFL behind Christian McCaffrey and Rachaad White.

    Calvin Ridley’s departure could force Etienne into an even more prominent role.

    Prediction: Exercise ($6.143 million)

    26) Greg Newsome, CB, Cleveland Browns

    Trade rumors have swirled around Newsome in recent seasons following his full-time move to the slot. He won’t become a perimeter corner for Cleveland, barring an injury to Denzel Ward or Martin Emerson. However, Newsome is still a bargain at this price, especially given the prevalence of 11 personnel around the NFL.

    Prediction: Exercise ($13.377 million)

    27) Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

    Bateman was a talented prospect coming out of Minnesota, but injuries and ineffectiveness have marred his pro career.

    While he mainly stayed healthy in 2023, Bateman put up just 32 catches for 367 yards and one touchdown. The production isn’t there to justify Baltimore exercising his option.

    Prediction: Decline ($14.345 million)

    28) Payton Turner, DE, New Orleans Saints

    Injuries have hampered Turner, too, including in 2023 when a turf toe problem cost him most of the season. But he’s also been a healthy scratch at times.

    MORE: Could the Saints Look To Trade for Zach Wilson?

    The Saints still have Cameron Jordan, extended Carl Granderson last year, and signed Chase Young this offseason. Every New Orleans move suggests it’s moving on from Turner.

    Prediction: Decline ($13.387 million)

    29) Eric Stokes, CB, Green Bay Packers

    A foot injury ended Stokes’ 2022 campaign and cost him time into 2023, while an additional hamstring problem ultimately led to the 25-year-old playing in just three games last season. Green Bay can’t risk getting locked into an option on Stokes because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

    Prediction: Decline ($12.472 million)

    30) Gregory Rousseau, DE, Buffalo Bills

    Rousseau remains an underrated presence on the edge. He finished with 18 QB hits last season, tied with more heralded pass rushers like Brian Burns and Alex Highsmith.

    Rousseau is Buffalo’s best defensive lineman and should be in line for an extension once the Bills get their salary cap cleaned up.

    Prediction: Exercise ($13.387 million)

    31) Odafe Oweh, DE, Baltimore Ravens

    Although Oweh has been banged up throughout his career and played just 437 snaps a year ago, underlying metrics suggest he’s on the verge of a dominant performance.

    KEEP READING: NFL Free Agency 2024 Hypotheticals

    Five sacks might not look all that impressive, but Oweh finished 10th among EDGEs with an 18.2% pass-rush win rate, per PFF.

    Prediction: Exercise ($13.251 million)

    32) Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Tryon-Shoyinka was demoted in favor of third-round rookie YaYa Diaby near the end of last season. While Tryon-Shoyinka can be a rotational pass rusher for any number of teams, the Buccaneers won’t want to commit to a $13+ million guarantee.

    Prediction: Decline ($13.351 million)

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