Buccaneers 'unlikely' to use fifth-year option on Adrian Clayborn

Al Messerschmidt

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are willing to run the risk of Adrian Clayborn walking away in free agency after the 2014 season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are unlikely to use the fifth-year option on Adrian Claybornaccording to Pro Football Talk, who cite a league source. The fifth-year option is built into every first-round rookie contract. Picking it up would give Clayborn a salary of around $5 million make that $6.969 million in 2015, which is guaranteed for injury only but would become fully guaranteed at the start of the 2015 league year. The Bucs have until May 3 to exercise that option if they choose to.

This is a bit of a weird decision, as there's not a lot of risk involved with picking up Clayborn's option. Unless Clayborn suffers an injury during the season,they could simply cut him after 2013 if he didn't live up to that price tag of nearly $7 million. At the same time, by not picking up his option they also won't be bound to that $7 million number if they do want to extend him at a lower price point.

But the 2011 first-round pick's performance so far has certainly been disappointing, with just 13 career sacks. This was in part due to a season-ending injury in 2012, which seemed to limit his explosiveness in 2013. He was further limited by a scheme that asked him to take his off the ground frequently, which didn't seem to fit him, while the stunt-heavy assignments also didn't give him many opportunities to beat an offensive tackle one-on-one.

Clayborn's disappointing production led the team to sign Michael Johnson in free agency this year, who will start at right defensive end. Clayborn will likely move over to the left side of the defensive line, where he'll be first in line in a competition with (among others) Da'Quan Bowers and William Gholston. Clayborn won't be traded, Pro Football Talk notes, but this is obviously not a good sign for his future with the team.

With Clayborn entering the final year of his rookie contract, this will likely be his final chance to show that he can be a starting defensive end in the NFL, at least with the Buccaneers. The team's new scheme should help Clayborn, as he'll be able to pass-rush from a three-point stance frequently. To do so effectively, he'll have to show the burst and violence he flashed as a rookie, but failed to develop since then.

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