Will Bucs take Clayborn's option? Sites say no
One of the wrinkles of the NFL's new CBA will come into play next week, when teams must decide whether to sign their 2011 first-round draft picks to a fifth-year option for 2015. Teams can still cut the player up until next March without penalty, but the speculation Monday is that the Bucs won't opt for the option on defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who would make $6.96-million in 2015 if the option was exercised.
Opting against the option doesn't mean the upcoming season is Clayborn's last in Tampa Bay -- he could sign a longterm extension at any point if he plays well enough to merit such an offer, but the Bucs would be gambling that such a deal wouldn't be worth that lofty 2015 salary.
Profootballtalk.com, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Bucs are unlikely to exercise the option, but also unlikely to trade Clayborn to another team that would want to do so. Clayborn had 5.5 sacks in 2013 and is expected to move to the left side with the Bucs' signing of free agent Michael Johnson from the Cincinnati Bengals. CBS' Jason LaCanfora, in projecting which first-rounders are likely to get the options, put Clayborn in the "not bloody likely" category," as one of 10 players in that group.
This would set up 2013 as a key season for Clayborn -- the Bucs could draft a pass-rusher high in next month's draft to challenge him and/or even anticipate his departure, and he'll already be battling for playing time with second-year pro Will Gholston, who showed promise in the second half of last season. Beyond that, the Bucs still have former second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers, who had just seven tackles last season, as well as Steven Means, who played sparingly as a rookie last year.