NFL teams have until May 2 to exercise a fifth-year contract option on all first-round draft picks from 2016. Shaq Lawson and the Buffalo Bills are coming up on that deadline.
Players that have their contract extended for that fifth-year will be unrestricted free agents after the 2021 season. The salary is typically guaranteed for injury only and is effective until the first day of the 2020 league year, at which point the option money on the contract will become fully guaranteed.
The top ten draft selections from 2016 receive salaries that are equal to the average of the ten highest salaries at their given position. The rest of the first-round picks receive an average of the third through 25th highest salaries at their position.
Lawson was the 19th pick in the 2016 draft, which if the option is picked up, it would cost the Bills somewhere between $10.5-11 million for the 2020 season. That would put him on par with players like Mike Daniels, Akiem Hicks, Jerry Hughes, and Derek Wolfe.
That would be a lot of cap space for a player who has been unable to make it through a full season healthy. Last season was his most productive season playing in 14 games, in which he made four sacks and 30 tackles. That would be a lot to spend on his production thus far into his career.
If the Bills decide to pick up the option, it will be based on the potential they see in him. Also, they have to take in consideration that Jerry Hughes, 30, is going into the final year of his current contract. It will be interesting to see what the Bills do to potentially build a future between Lawson and the team, as long as they can do it at a reasonable price.