The New England Patriots roster three 2015 first-round picks on rookie contracts. That means the Patriots had to decide by Thursday whether to pick up the fifth-year options of defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.
The Patriots won’t trigger any of those three options, NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday.
So, what does this mean?
All three players still will be under contract for 2018, but they’ll hit free agency next offseason. A fifth-year option salary for Shelton and Brown would have been $7.154 million. Dorsett’s would have been over $9.3 million.
Only 14 defensive tackles — the majority of whom are three-down players — have cap hits over $7.154 million in 2018. Brown and Shelton primarily play on first and second down and come off the field for passing situations. There was no way the Patriots were paying Dorsett upwards of $9 million.
The Patriots still could choose to extend the contracts of Brown, Shelton or Dorsett before they hit free agency. It seems most likely the Patriots would do so for Brown, who has started 37 games over the last three seasons. The Patriots picked up Shelton in a trade this offseason, shipping a 2019 third-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Shelton and a 2018 fifth-round selection. The Patriots likely could sign both Brown and Shelton to average salaries under $7 million even after they hit free agency.
The Patriots traded quarterback Jacoby Brissett for Dorsett last September. Dorsett caught 12 passes for 194 yards last season. He’ll compete for a spot on the Patriots’ 2018 roster with Malcolm Mitchell, Jordan Matthews, Braxton Berrios, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister.
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