Colbert: Ryan Shazier injury won’t change Steelers’ stance on 5th-year options

March 13, 2018

NFL teams, per the collective bargaining agreement, can exercise a fifth-year option on first-round draft picks in the spring before the player enters his fourth season. The Steelers did that with inside linebacker Ryan Shazier last April, and he will count $8.7 million against the salary cap.

The salary is injury protected so Shazier will receive his money even though he is unlikely to play in 2018 because of his spinal cord injury.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Shazier’s catastrophic injury won’t alter the team’s stance on whether to pick up a player’s fifth-year option in the future. Outside linebacker Bud Dupree is a candidate in April to receive a fifth year. Next spring, the focus will be on cornerback Artie Burns.

“That’s the risk you run when you put that option into effect,” Colbert said. “Any player can get injured on any play, and that is our game. We understand that, and we understand the risk involved, and we try to make those decisions knowing that those type of things can happen.”

The Steelers did not exercise a fifth-year option as recently as 2016 when they allowed former first-rounder Jarvis Jones to enter his fourth season without the guarantee of an extra year. Jones underperformed and left as a free agent after the season.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.