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With fifth-year option, Bills and Ed Oliver will likely wait on contract extension

Brandon Beane already said he would pick up the option

The Buffalo Bills drafted defensive tackle Ed Oliver in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Like the rest of the players drafted in that round, teams have the right this offseason to apply the fifth-year option to those players to guarantee another year on their four-year rookie contracts at a guaranteed price. (That’s not to retain them in 2022, but 2023.)

Oliver has a fixed salary of just under $3.2 million in 2022. That’s not going to change any time soon and his cap hit of $6.26 million is likely to stay the same, as well. The fifth-year option in 2023 won’t change that.

Originally set to be $8,830,000 for the fifth-year option in 2023, Oliver has met the playing-time incentives and bumped his salary to $10,069,000. Oliver has played more than 50% of the Bills’ defensive snaps in all three seasons he’s been with the team, triggering the bump in pay, so instead of an average of the third through 25th highest-paid defensive tackles, he earns the average of the third through 20th highest-paid DTs.

Oliver did not meet the requirements to bump it higher, as he hasn’t made the Pro Bowl.

Only one defensive tackle signed a free-agent contract for more than Oliver’s $10.069 million average annual value in 2021. Dalvin Tomlinson signed for two years and $21 million with the New York Giants to squeak past him at $10.5 million per season. Oliver at $10.069 million would be the 16th-highest paid DT in the NFL today.

Without diving too much into the other contracts, Oliver is likely going to be slightly overpaid in his fifth year, but when you look at the five years of guaranteed salary on the whole, it’s a bargain. His first contract was just over $4.9 million in average annual value and with the fifth year will be under $6 million per season. Very reasonable for a guy playing as the starter in head coach Sean McDermott’s heavy defensive line rotation.

In January, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said they would pick up the option on Oliver, so it’s a moot point in a lot of ways.

If the Bills would prefer, they can negotiate a contract extension instead. But Oliver was playing so well by the end of 2021, he should probably bank on himself at this point with the guaranteed eight-figure deal coming his way already in 2023. Between 2022 and 2023, Buffalo would be guaranteeing more than $13 million by applying the option, so they would have to guarantee into the third year of any long-term contract at this point and even at something like an $8 million per-year deal, that puts him into the top ten of defensive tackles in terms of guaranteed money north of $21 million.

Over the Cap valued Oliver’s 2021 season at $7.5 million. That’s the same annual salary Vernon Butler signed for, and Oliver has to think he can get more than that when it’s his turn to hit the open market in two years from now.

That’s a bunch of words to say Oliver and the Bills should both want to wait. Ultimately, the fifth-year option buys everyone time. Oliver shows up to training camp in great shape and ready to be a wrecking ball, and then you might see a deal in August. That was the time frame they used with Josh Allen, but QB is a much different position. I think it’s more along the lines of Tremaine Edmunds; tag him with the fifth-year option for 2023, and negotiate a long-term deal in the 2023 offseason after you’ve gained as much information as possible.

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