Houston Texan outside linebacker, Whitney Mercilus, was the number 26 draft pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. As per Article 7, Section 7 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement all rookie contracts are set at a 4 year duration; with the exception of players drafted in the first round. The team will have the option to activate a 5th year on the player contract. There are a few conditions that go along with this team option. The team must notify the NFL and NFLPA between the day after the Superbowl and May 3rd after the player’s third year of the contract. The salary for the 5th year option is determined by the player’s draft position. Mercilus was drafted at the number 26 spot; his salary will be the average of the number 3 through 25 salaries at the player’s position. For the OLB position the salary for the 5th year will be $7,751,000; which will also be the salary cap charge.
When the team activates the 5th year option, the salary becomes fully guaranteed for injury only. The salary will then become fully guaranteed for skill, cap, or injury on the first day of the new league year in 2016. The team will need to determine, a full year in advance, if they would like to active this fifth year option. The Texans activated the 5th year option on J.J. Watt’s rookie deal, but eventually reached an extension before the 2014 regular season began.
I would expect the team to activate the 5th year option for Mercilus. Outside linebacker is a position of need for the Texans, and add in the unknown status of JaDaveon Clowney returning for the 2015 season. I will agree that $7.751 million is probably over paying for Mercilus, but this option does provide the team with an extra year of insurance at the position.
The Texans could also choose to extend Mercilus’ contract now; but Mercilus would likely be looking for the guaranteed money to be at least $7.75 million dollars (probably more) as part of that extension. One way the team could extend the contract would be to add 3 years onto the contract (2016, 2017, 2018), offer a $6 million signing bonus with a $2 million salary in 2016, $5.5m in 2017, $6m in 2018. On the 5th year option, the salary cap charge was set to be $7.751 million; but with this proposed extension the salary cap charge would only be $4 million in 2016.
The deadline is May 3rd, 2015. This is the day after the completion of the NFL Draft. The Texans could theoretically wait until the draft is over before choosing to activate the 5th year option.
Please leave a comment below on what you think the Texans should do in this situation?