Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
This has now been confirmed, as Jenna Laine reports.
Adrian Clayborn is entering his fourth season in the NFL, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have to decide if they want to exercise the fifth-year option they have on the former Iowa standout as part of his rookie contract.
However, it’s being reported that the Bucs are highly unlikely to pull the trigger on year five, where Clayborn is scheduled to make $6.9 million.
Teams must decide by May 3 whether they will pick up the fifth-year option on any player that was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft. Clayborn was drafted 20th overall.
While it appears unlikely that the option will be picked up, it’s also being reported that Clayborn will not be getting traded either.
Over the three years Clayborn has been in the league, he has been a solid defensive lineman but probably not quite the impact playmaker the Bucs thought he would be.
In his rookie year he had 7.5 sacks while playing in all 16 games. However, he only played in three games in 2012 after ending up on injured reserve after hurting his knee.
He rebounded in 2013 with his best season as a pro, where he had 64 tackles in 16 games, while registering 5.5 sacks.
The $6.9 million option the Bucs are likely declining makes sense. Clayborn has been a valuable member along the defensive line, but his play doesn’t justify a near $7 million cap hit. It’s also worth noting that the Bucs need to lock up Gerald McCoy soon, who will no doubt demand a high salary.
It’s also risky business for the Bucs to exercise the option in large part because if Clayborn is either injured this season or doesn’t continue to make improvements as a player, the Bucs will be locked into that final year. While the Bucs risk losing Clayborn next off-season, it’s appears to be a risk they are willing to take.
Along with the recent signing of Michael Johnson, and the (probable) impending extension of McCoy forthcoming, the Bucs can’t afford to be paying Clayborn a high salary.
The 25-year-old wouldn’t be considered a top tier player at his position, but he is definitely a very good second option. He’s gets to the quarterback regularly (although he doesn’t always get the sack) and can cause disruption in both the running and passing game so he has high value for Lovie Smith and the Bucs.
With defenses having to primarily focus on McCoy and Johnson, Clayborn could have a big 2014 season. While the Bucs don’t appear willing to commit to a fifth-year right now, he still has a big role on the defense and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
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