The NFL’s fifth-year option deadline looms large over three of the NFC North teams. While the Chicago Bears don’t need to worry about the option this offseason, the Green Bay Packers have two decisions to make ahead of May 2.
The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings also have decisions to make on a pair of offensive players.
Predicting fifth-year option decisions for the NFC North
The Lions, Vikings, and Packers have a little less than a month to decide on the futures of their 2019 first-round picks. Those players could finish off their rookie deals with huge 2023 salaries if their teams decide to pick up their fifth-year options.
Fifth-year option: TE T.J. Hockenson
This is a slam-dunk decision for the Lions. Hockenson has been their best offensive player throughout his time in Detroit and is only getting better. While his $9.4 million salary is pretty lofty, that’s a reasonable rate for a starting tight end in the NFL.
Through his first three seasons in the NFL, Hockenson has produced 160 catches for 1,673 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s been able to excel with little around him on offense.
Fifth-year option: C Garrett Bradbury
A $13.2 million salary for a solid but not spectacular center is a tough number to digest. While Bradbury could get locked in with a long-term contract extension, the new Vikings regime probably doesn’t want to commit to a big salary like that at this point, even for a homegrown talent.
Green Bay Packers
Fifth-year option: EDGE Rashan Gary
The Packers have seen a revolving door of pass rushers come and go over the years, but Gary is definitely a keeper. The 6-foot-5, 277-pound edge rusher is an ascending player with 16.5 sacks under his belt. Still just 24, Gary should be a long-term piece of the defensive puzzle for the Packers, even if he costs $10.9 million in 2023.
While he’s been classified as a linebacker, there’s a strong chance that Gary’s agent could push for the $11.5 million defensive line bill.
Fifth-year option: S Darnell Savage
While Savage has been a solid contributor on the back end of the defense, paying $7.9 million for a solid DB seems like a bit of an overpay. Savage has proven to be a playmaker with 8 interceptions over three years, but it’s hard to pick up two fifth-year options in one offseason.
Savage is probably better off signing a long-term contract extension with the Packers at this point. This is a tough decision, but declining Savage’s fifth-year option would give Green Bay some leverage in a contract extension negotiation.