Adrian Clayborn and Gabe Carimi should see their 2015 options lifted

Al Messerschmidt

Due to an obscure 2011 CBA rule, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have Gabe Carimi and Adrian Clayborn Carimi under contract for 2015 -- if they warrant it.

Jason Cole wrote a really good article on how the 2011 CBA really screwed over first-round draft picks. The focus is on fifth-year option clauses for first-round picks. Teams have the option to automatically extend a first-round player's contract by a fifth year after their third seasons, for a salary determined by the salaries of other players at their position. In general, these fifth-year salaries are significantly lower than what players would get as free agents. What's more, the salary is only guaranteed for injury, which means teams effectively have a risk-free fifth year.

The NFLPA decided to throw the top 32 picks in every draft under the bus so that they could get everyone else more money, guaranteed (more or less) by the not-so-strict salary floor. Whether or not that will eventually result in more spending on the rest of the player pool remains to be seen -- but that was, at least, the intent of what they did.

The Buccaneers have two of those 2011 first-round picks in Adrian Clayborn and Gabe Carimi, whom they traded a sixth-round pick for last year. Both of those players should see their options lifted this season, for one simple reason: whatever their fifth-year salaries will be, they will not be guaranteed. If they perform poorly this year, the Bucs can cut them or force them to accept lower pay. If they play well, they have them under contract for another year at relatively low salaries.

Both Carimi and Clayborn were picked outside the top ten, which means their 2015 salaries will be the average of the salaries of the third through 25th-highest paid players at their positions. Based on 2013 cap spending at each position, this would likely mean around $5.5 million salaries for either player. That's more than either would gain on the open market now, but neither player is likely to actually see any of that money unless they significantly increase their quality of play.

There's no risk and a decent amount of upside involved with these options for the team, which means both Carimi and Clayborn should see their options lifted this offseason to remain under contract through the 2015 season. In reality, though, they'll simply get this year to prove that they should even be on the roster in 2015.

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