With the 2018 NFL draft a few days in the rear-view mirror, we’re reminded on Wednesday how imprecise the draft can be.
Wednesday was the deadline for teams to pick up fifth-year options on 2015 first-round picks. It’s also the day we’re reminded of the Chicago Bears drafting receiver Kevin White with the seventh overall pick.
White shaping up to be a historic bust
The Bears declined to pick up the fifth-year option on White’s deal, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, and the most surprise that generated was from people who forgot White was still in the NFL. The option would have been for $13.9 million, and there was no chance of that happening. White, an exciting pick by the Bears at the time, will go down as one of the bigger busts in team history. While acknowledging that there’s still time for the 25-year-old White to turn things around, here’s what the Bears got for the first three seasons of the No. 7 overall pick: 21 catches, 193 yards, no touchdowns. Also, he went three picks before 2017 NFL offensive player of the year Todd Gurley. Due to injuries, which started when White’s rookie season was wiped out, White has appeared in only five games. The Bears approached this offseason like he wasn’t even a factor anymore, signing and drafting multiple new receivers. White can resurrect his career if he makes the Bears roster in the final year of his deal, but playing time will be tough to come by.
Who else had their options declined?
White was the biggest name among the 2015 picks to not have his fifth-year option picked up, but not the only one. The highest-drafted 2015 first-round pick to not have the fifth-year option exercised was Jacksonville Jaguars pass rusher Dante Fowler, the third overall pick, though Garafolo reported the team likes Fowler and wants to sign him to a long-term deal. Injuries set Fowler back as well.
For many of the others who didn’t have their option exercised, the team is just admitting a mistake and moving on. Among those who didn’t get their option exercised, according to reports: Giants OT Ereck Flowers (ESPN), Patriots DT Danny Shelton (NFL Network), Chiefs OL Cameron Erving (NFL Network), Bengals OL Cedric Ogbuehi (NFL Network), Broncos OLB Shane Ray (The Athletic), Ravens WR Breshad Perriman (NFL Network), Laken Tomlinson (NBC Sports Bay Area), Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett (NFL Network), Dolphins LB Stephone Anthony (NFL Network) and Patriots DT Malcom Brown (NFL Network).
Some, like Perriman, could never stay healthy. Others like Tomlinson, Erving, Dorsett and Anthony were already traded from their original teams. Ray was squeezed out when the Broncos drafted Bradley Chubb. A couple others simply weren’t any good, though a few others could be considered for a contract extension if they play well this season.
There’s still time for redemption
Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller is a good example that a declined fifth-year option isn’t the worst thing. Fuller played very well last season after having his option declined, then was given the transition tag this offseason and the Bears matched Green Bay’s offer sheet of $56 million over four years.
So there’s hope for those who didn’t get their fifth-year option exercised today. But for some, like White, it might take a monster year to turn things around.
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