Keeping up with some of the fine print on the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement can be taxing, but so much of it is informational (and potentially really impactful), so I can’t help myself from digging in.
Indeed, there’s one aspect of the proposal that caught my eye so much, it was necessary to share some expanded thoughts on it. And from a Chicago Bears perspective, it could be something that comes into play in a big way.
Here’s the nugget from NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero:
The changes to the 5th-year option under the proposed CBA are substantial: Now fully guaranteed before 4th season when option exercised (rather than just for injury), but value of option tied to performance, not draft slot.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 21, 2020
Under the current CBA, the fifth-year option on a first-round pick’s rookie deal is guaranteed for injury only (in other words, a team could pick it up, but then later decide to drop that player, so long as he’s healthy). But this proposed tweak in the rule would result in the fifth-year option being fully guaranteed upon execution.
That is quite an important change, one that the Bears should be keeping an eye on as CBA negotiations continue.
If this CBA goes through, Chicago has to make a decision regarding quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s fifth-year option in May, with no take bakes. Back in December, there was a belief that picking up the option was a no-brainer. Because even if Trubisky’s play leveled off, the team would be able to opt out if they didn’t like what he showed in Year 4. And since the fifth-year option (at an estimated $24 million) is projected to cost slightly less than what a Franchise Tag (the 2020 tag is projected to be at $27.067 million) would, it would be sensible to roll that dice knowing there was an escape hatch to use if necessary. But if the exercising of a fifth-year option fully guarantees that year, I’m not convinced that picking it up would be the easy decision it might have been at one time.
Ultimately, this ruling could lead to a franchise-altering decision for the Bears. IF the new CBA passes and is applicable for the 2020 league year, and this fifth-year option rule kicks in, the Bears’ need to bring in a REAL competitor in the QB room goes up by a ton. *AND* they probably have to land that long-term option guy before the option decision is due in May. Wow.
The new CBA still needs to be approved by the players (there’s already been some pushback) and then ultimately ratified and put into place for this coming season. Once it shakes out, then we can really dive into some of the ramifications of the new deal. But we have quite a ways to go before we get to cross that bridge. And yet, there’s already one BIG thing to keep in mind moving forward.