For 2011 first-round picks, May 3 is the deadline for teams to pick up the fifth-year option for the rookie deals. So far, J.J. Watt and Muhammad Wilkerson have already had their options picked up, but they’re superstars at their position. While Prince Amukamara has been solid for the New York Giants, it’s not wise for them to pick up his option.
While the option year is tied to the rookie contract, it’s not exactly what you’d call cheap. The expectation is for Amukamara’s option to be worth $7.13 million, or more than the yearly average for newly signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Amukamara has been a solid corner for the Giants, but last year he wasn’t even the best corner on the team. He posted a respectable 7.6 YPA, but an ugly 9.2 vertical YPA. Trumaine McBride — the other starter — posted a 4.5 YPA and 5.4 vertical YPA, and overall the Giants as a team allowed 6.3 YPA. Now the Giants have brought in Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond. Both players could prove to be better than Amukamara.
None of this is to say the Giants should let Amukamara go. He is still under contract, and can be re-signed at the end of the year. It’s simply saying that Amukamara isn’t worth the $7.13 million cap hit the fifth-year option would cost the Giants.
Instead, it’s smarter for the team to keep their options open. Who knows, by the end of the season the Giants might decide it’s smarter to invest in Thurmond long-term, who was signed to just a one-year deal. Even if they do decide to bring Amukamara back, it’s likely they’d be able to sign him to a contract with a lower annual salary than $7.13 million.