The Detroit Lions are busy preparing for the final two days of the 2019 NFL Draft, but a significant decision awaits them on the other side. 2016 first-round pick Taylor Decker is currently entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the Lions will have to make a decision on his option fifth year.
By NFL rules, teams can exercise an extra year in the rookie deal of their first-round picks. For teams, it’s a way to retain a player on a relative cheap deal for another year or to disengage from a failed pick and let him hit free agency after four seasons.
On Thursday night, Lions general manager said the team hasn’t made a decision yet on their current left tackle.
“Nothing yet, that’s something that we’ll get to next week probably,” Quinn said.
The Lions will have to get to it next week, as the deadline to exercise that fifth-year option is next Friday, May 3.
While the contract terms of the fifth year are still unknown, it will be interesting to see what Detroit chooses to do. Decker’s career got off to a promising start, but a torn labrum cost him the first half of his second year, and while he hasn’t been bad since, he’s been unspectacular.
At this point, the Lions don’t appear to have a plan of succession should they move on from Decker. Though they drafted Tyrell Crosby in the fifth round last year, he doesn’t appear anywhere near the level to challenge Decker’s throne. Of course, that could all change should Detroit decide to draft an offensive lineman in the remaining two days of the NFL Draft.
For now, it seems likely Detroit gives that option to Decker. After all, there’s very little risk in doing so. The Lions did the same with Eric Ebron, and ended up simply cutting him before that fifth year, recouping all $8.25 million of the non-guaranteed option. The only downside is that you lose out on a chance at a compensatory pick should you choose to move on after four years.