In what should rate as a case of doing the expected, the Rams have decided to exercise the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Michael Brockers, but not safety Mark Barron, for the 2016 season.
The Rams faced a league-wide deadline of May 3, the day after this year's draft, to exercise the fifth-year options.
The fifth-year option concept was instituted as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Last year, the Rams exercised their fifth-year option on defensive end Robert Quinn, subsequently signing him to a contract extension last September before the Rams' Week 2 contest at Tampa Bay.
Quinn was selected 14th overall in the 2011 draft.
This year, it's the 2012 first-round class that's subject to the fifth-year option, and Brockers was selected 14th overall by the Rams and Barron seventh overall by Tampa Bay that year.
With the Rams exercising Brockers' option, he is scheduled to make $6.146 million in 2016. That's the average of the third_ through 25th-highest paid defensive tackles in the NFL. Which is the formula used for fifth-year options on players drafted from No. 11 overall to No. 32 in the opening round.
However, for players drafted in the top 10 such as Barron, the fifth-year option is more expensive: it's the average of the 10-highest players at the position. (Or the equivalent of the transition tag number.)
So for Barron, it would've cost the Rams $8.263 million to exercise the fifth-year option, way too high to be practical. So Barron plays the 2015 season with the Rams, and then becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016 unless the Rams re-sign him to a contract extension.
Brockers, 24, registered 73 tackles and two sacks last season, a little off his career highs of 75 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks in 2013. But with the emergence of rookie Aaron Donald, Brockers did more of the dirty work on the Rams' defensive front in 2014, frequently playing almost in a nose tackle-type role over the second half of the season.
Acquired in an Oct. 29 trade with Tampa Bay in exchange for fourth_ and sixth-round picks in this year's draft, Barron appeared in nine games with two starts for the Rams last season.
He recorded 23 tackles with three sacks and a pass breakup, and was effective blitzing in passing situations.