In what comes as a surprise to pretty much no one, the St. Louis Rams picked up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Michael Brockers on Monday. The move guarantees that Brockers will remain with the team through the 2016 season.
If nothing else, the Rams now have at least bought themselves a little more time to sign Brockers to a long-term contract extension before he would hit free agency. St. Louis followed a similar pattern with defensive end Robert Quinn a year ago, choosing to exercise the fifth-year option on him before signing him to a lucrative contract extension in September.
The NFL deadline to execute the fifth-year options on the first-round picks of the 2012 NFL draft class is May 3. Should the Rams not re-sign Brockers before the 2016 season, he would now be due to make $6.146 million that season. That salary is determined by the average of the third through 25th highest-paid defensive tackles in the league.
Brockers was the team's No. 14 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, acquired after the team traded down twice from its original No. 2 overall pick. In the time since, Brockers' role has been constantly evolving for the Rams. He has 109 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery since entering the league.
In 2014, Brockers' numbers dropped to 32 tackles with two sacks and a fumble recovery but that was due in large part to a changing role. The addition of rookie Aaron Donald shifted Brockers into more of a traditional nose tackle role with his primary responsibility more centered on taking on double-teams and occupying blockers so others can make the plays.
The Rams also have a decision to make on safety Mark Barron, whom they acquired in trade at midseason last year. Barron was the seventh pick in that same 2012 class but Tampa Bay dealt him to St. Louis for fourth- and sixth-round picks in October. But, given the small sample size of Barron in St. Louis and the cost associated with exercising the option, it's unlikely the Rams will choose to go that direction.