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CeeDee Lamb is the first Dallas Cowboys player to have his fifth-year option exercised in 3 years

It has been a minute since the Dallas Cowboys exercised a fifth-year option.

Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been quiet and efficient this offseason. Since last season ended in the Divisional Round, we have seen this team make smart move after smart move which has been an incredible change of pace. Some of these moves were a bit more surprising than others (the trades for Stephon Gilmore and/or Brandin Cooks come to mind) but others were rather chalk (retaining key figures like Donovan Wilson and/or Leighton Vander Esch).

Even as far as things that would normally feel a touch dramatic, the Cowboys have been chill. They placed the franchise tag on running back Tony Pollard and - gasp! - he signed it. Additionally they placed a second-round tender on Terence Steele and - no way! - he also put pen to paper.

The NFL draft promises a bit more chaos and unpredictability, but a week before it began the Cowboys executed their final “duh” move of the offseason by picking up CeeDee Lamb’s fifth-year option for the 2024 season. You could see this coming from a mile away.

CeeDee Lamb is the first Cowboys player to have his fifth-year option picked up since Ezekiel Elliott back in 2019

In case you are unaware, a fifth-year option is a function only available to first-round picks.

After a first-rounder has played three seasons with their team, the team can choose to pick up the option. If a team does this then the player’s rookie contract (which is traditionally four years long) has a fifth option year added to it, although there is a significant price hike. Using Lamb as an example, his 2024 value will be just south of $18M.

While the fifth year can be a jump in price, it is still relatively cheap compared to the market rate for whatever position you are talking about. Consider that there are currently 15 wide receivers in the NFL making more than $18M per year and that Lamb not only is easily a top 15 receiver, but that this is his figure for 2024, not the here and now of 2023.

If it isn’t obvious, the fifth-year option is a coveted tool by front offices in the name of building a team efficiently and without over-spending. We know that the Cowboys like to be frugal in certain areas which is why it may surprise you that Lamb is the first first-rounder to have his option exercised since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

  • 2020 CeeDee Lamb.... fifth-year option exercised
  • 2019 N/A (the team traded away their first-round pick)
  • 2018 Leighton Vander Esch... fifth-year option not exercised
  • 2017 Taco Charlton... he was released early in his third season
  • 2016 Ezekiel Elliott... fifth-year option exercised

While the Cowboys did not exercise LVE’s fifth-year option, they did bring him back for a fifth year, it was just on a one-year, prove-it deal, the contract that expired a few months ago that led to him re-signing with the team. Similarly the team’s 2012 first-round draft pick Morris Claiborne also signed a one-year deal for his fifth season after not having the option picked up.

But what is interesting to note about the last player who Dallas picked up the option on, Ezekiel Elliott, is that he was given his long-term extension a few months later after his holdout during training camp back in 2019. Obviously nobody is hoping that Lamb holds out, but the sooner that Dallas can get a long-term deal done with him the better as evidenced by how many receivers are making north of $18M/year as we discussed. The price only goes up.

What do you think? Will Dallas get a long-term deal done with CeeDee? Jump down to the comments and let us know.

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