As we continue to look at offseason issues facing the Jets, let's look at the fifth year option decisions they will have to make. First round Draft picks sign four year contracts. They also have a fifth year team option. The team must choose whether to pick up the option prior to a player's fourth season. This year teams will need to decide whether to extend the option to first round picks in 2013. The Jets took a pair of players in the first round that season.
The Jets have until May 3 to decide. None of the money would be guaranteed initially. The contracts would become fully guaranteed on the first day of the league year for the 2017 season. A player could be cut before that point and wipe out the cap hit for 2017 entirely just as the Jets did for 2016 when they cut Quinton Coples. They would also be fully guaranteed if the player suffered a catastrophic injury that forced them to miss the entire 2017 season.
The Jets took Milliner with the ninth overall pick of the 2013 Draft. I haven't yet seen the exact figures made public for the salary of the fifth year option. For the 2011 class, it was a shade over $10 million for a cornerback drafted in the top ten. For the 2012 class, it was a shade over $11 million.
There really isn't a credible case for the Jets to exercise the option on Milliner. The threat of the option being guaranteed if the player suffers a serious injury should by itself be enough to convince the Jets to not extend it to Milliner. To say Milliner has struggled to stay on the field because of injury would be an understatement.
Milliner's injury history obscures how poor his overall level of play has been during the few instances he has gotten onto the field, though. He has only a few good games on his resume. In his rookie season of 2013, he was one of the least effective starting corners in the league. This season, he did not even earn playing time when healthy. Undrafted Marcus Williams clearly passed him on the team's totem pole. When the Jets suffered a few injuries in their defensive backfield, the coaching staff even trusted Darrin Walls over Milliner.
The Jets have had some really bad Draft picks in the past. Unless something changes dramatically with Milliner, he looks like he might go down as one of the five biggest busts in team history.
Verdict: Obvious Decline
The Jets picked Richardson with the thirteenth pick of the Draft in 2013. What followed was a Rookie of the Year in year one and a trip to the Pro Bowl in year two. Year three was more up and down. It did not have to do with Richardson's performance on the field. When he played, he was excellent.
His season started, however, with a four game suspension for violating the NFL's Substance Abuse Policy. He was also arrested during the offseason. Charges are pending, and another suspension could conceivably be in the works.
Due to the off field problems, the Jets are probably not going to extend Richardson long-term at this point. They would be wise to see whether he shows he can avoid these off field problems and turn things around. The fifth year option buys them an extra season to evaluate Sheldon. It gives the team a two year audition to see whether the player is worth a big extension.
Again, official numbers are not yet out. The option was worth a little under $7 million for a defensive end picked outside the top ten in 2011 and a little under $8 million for one picked in 2012.
Verdict: Obvious Accept