CARDINALS CORNER

Zaven Collins’ 5th-year option around $13 million if picked up by Cardinals

Feb 24, 2024, 9:39 AM

On top of salary cap clarity coming down the wire from the NFL on Friday, fifth-year option rates for the 2021 draft class were also set in stone ahead of the new league year.

For the Arizona Cardinals, that means getting a number on what it’s going to cost to pick up linebacker Zaven Collins’s fifth-year option on May 2.

Given where Collins slots in on the fifth-year option tiers, the Cardinals would be on the hook for $13.2 million guaranteed if they pick it up.

There’s levels to fifth-year options in the NFL

The NFL divvies up fifth-year options into four tiers depending on Pro Bowl nods and playing time.

Collins’ number in Year 5 is pretty hefty for a one-year deal. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s actually cheaper than any of the other tiers Collins could have fallen into.

For example, if Collins would have made two or more Pro Bowls during his first three years in the league, his fifth-year option would have ballooned to $24 million. If he had made one Pro Bowl, that number would have dropped to $19.9 million.

Aside from Pro Bowls, registering at least 75% of snaps in two of his first three seasons, averaging at least 75% in the first three seasons or posting 50% or greater across all three years would have brought Collins’ fifth-year option to $14.4 million.

Collins saw 58% of available defensive snaps this past season after registering 98% and 20%, respectively, the previous two years.

What if the Cardinals don’t pick up Zaven Collins’ fifth-year option?

With a one-year price tag of more than $13 million, the Cardinals picking up the inside-linebacker-turned-edge-rusher’s fifth-year option on May 2 seems unlikely at this point.

It also wouldn’t be the first time Arizona opted against handing out a fifth-year option, either, with safety/linebacker Isaiah Simmons and pass rusher Haason Reddick being two recent names the Cardinals passed on.

If that is the case, there would be a few different avenues for Arizona to take with the linebacker.

The team could let him play out his rookie contract before hitting the open market as an unrestricted free agent in 2025. Collins and the Cardinals could also head to the negotiation table in hopes of ironing out a long-term deal.

Then there’s Option 3, which centers around moving Collins via trade, much like the Cardinals did last preseason when they dealt Simmons to the New York Giants for a 2024 seventh-round pick.

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