The Atlanta Falcons face two fifth-year option decisions.
Atlanta Falcons’ Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst are both eligible to be signed to fifth-year options by virtue of being first-round picks in 2018. While Hurst was originally drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, one pick before Calvin Ridley, the decision on whether or not to pick up the option came with his contract.
The decision must be made as the player enters the final year of their existing contract.
First, it’s important to understand the rules behind the fifth-year option. Under the new CBA, there are four tiers that decide the value of the fifth year:
- Playing Time
- One Pro Bowl
- Multiple Pro Bowls
In short, which tier a player falls in depends on playing time and pro bowl selections, and the cost of the final year increases depending on the success of the player.
Once the option is picked up all of the base salary remaining on the contract becomes fully guaranteed, both the fifth year and any money not guaranteed on year four.
The Atlanta Falcons have an easy decision with Calvin Ridley.
Calvin falls in the playing time tier and his fifth year will cost the Falcons just over 11 million, a steal for the production. He’s emerged as one of the best receivers in the league and having an additional year at that cost is definitely worth it.
At that price, he would be making a similar salary to wide receivers Tyler Boyd, Tyrell Williams, and Larry Fitzgerald.
While many Falcons fans believe, and rightfully so, that Ridley was snubbed in the pro bowl voting in 2020 it turns out to be a blessing in disguise for the team. If he had been voted on the first team his price tag would have been $4 million higher.
Hayden Hurst falls in the basic tier.
That will put his fifth-year option number at $5.5 million, which is reasonable for a player of Hurst’s caliber. To put in perspective other tight ends with similarly yearly contracts are Blake Jarwin, Vance McDonald, and Jesse James.
Where this could get a bit murky is how Arthur Smith feels about Hurst’s skill set.
Smith loves his tight ends and should be happy with what Hurst brings to the field. However, if he wants to build the position to his vision and uses a high pick on a rookie or decides to be aggressive in free agency the decision may be a little tougher.
The Atlanta Falcons won’t have to make their decision until May 3rd, which falls after the draft.
Both players should be brought back for what will be very affordable fifth-year options. Expect to see Ridley’s get signed soon but Hurst’s may drag out a bit longer as the Falcons wait to see what happens in the draft and free agency.