Jeff Okudah was drafted by the Detroit Lions third overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. While he is just three seasons into his professional career, the Lions have a looming decision to make this offseason regarding his future with the organization.
As a first-round draft pick, Okudah’s rookie contract comes with a fifth-year team option. That means, while Okudah’s rookie contract technically runs out at the end of the 2023 season, the Lions have the option to add an additional year on the contract to keep him on the roster through the 2024 season.
When the fifth-year contract option was originally implemented, the cost of that additional year was originally calculated simply on draft position. But over time, the NFL and NFLPA have come up with a system that rewards players for playing time and production, as well as factoring in the position that player plays.
On Wednesday, the NFL released the details to teams regarding fifth-year options for the 2020 draft class.
Fifth-year option totals for 2020 first-round picks have been distributed to teams. Here are the numbers for the four different categories—deadline to pick up the options is the week after the draft. pic.twitter.com/T0r91eEUvl— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 7, 2023
Because Jeff Okudah has not made a Pro Bowl, he is eliminated from options I and II. His Achilles injury limited his playing time in his second year in the league, and also removed him from being eligible for option III. Therefore, Okudah falls into the option IV category, and when you look at the cornerback position for that group, you’ll see...
Jeff Okudah’s fifth-year option would cost $11,514,000 for the 2024 season.
There are a few important factors to consider when determining if the Lions should pick up Okudah’s option. First, the entire contract is guaranteed as a base salary. This means, if the Lions pick up Okudah’s option and then later decide to release him, they would be on the hook for that money and would take a salary cap hit of that amount. Secondly, while releasing him is not an ideal option, they could trade him and the guarantees would travel with him to his new team because the salary is guaranteed as a base, not a bonus—just like what happened with the T.J. Hockenson trade this past season.
The deadline to make a decision on Okudah’s fifth year is May 1, 2023—the Monday following the 2023 NFL Draft—but they can make a decision on the option at any time.