By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
In a bit of a formality, the Browns announced they have exercised the fifth-year option of defensive tackle Phil Taylor.
The fifth-year team option for players taken in the first round is a feature of the league’s collective bargaining agreement implemented in 2011. The 2011 rookie class is the first affected.
Taylor was the team’s first pick in 2011 after two trades – one to move down from No. 6 to No. 26, in which they bypassed Alabama receiver Julio Jones, and then another to move up from No. 26 to No. 21. Those yo-yo moves were made by former GM Tom Heckert.
Since Taylor’s arrival came two regimes ago, his long-term future with the new management team of GM Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine has been an understandable source of speculation.
Exercising the fifth-year option assures Taylor of a salary in 2015 of $5.5 million. But all teams still have the option of moving their player through trade or release – or re-doing a longer-term deal -- prior to the start of the 2015 season. The benefit of this move to Taylor is that his 2015 salary is now guaranteed if an injury in 2014 affects his status next year.
In the case of Taylor, the Browns at the very least are saying they want to get a good look at his game under the new coaches and new defensive system before committing long term.
In a statement from the club, Pettine said, “It’s very evident to us watching on tape and seeing him in person this week that Phil Taylor is very explosive and he’s a great fit for what we want to do on defense. I like his ability to rush the passer and be there to clog up the middle at the point of attack when we need him.”
At the conclusion of Pettine’s first minicamp on Thursday, Taylor expressed no concern that, at that time, he had no idea of the Browns’ plans.
In the club statement on Friday, Taylor said, “I am humbled and honored that the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on my contract. I truly hope to be in Cleveland my entire career and to be part of the team that turns this franchise back into a perennial winner and championship contender, and restores the luster of the Dawg Pound.”
Had the Browns not exercised Taylor’s option by the Saturday deadline, speculation would have been rampant that perhaps they had their eye on tackle Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh in the coming draft. That speculation should be quieted now.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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