The announcement of teams picking up the fifth-year option for players selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft are rolling in, and the Bucs are expected to join in by picking up the fifth-year option for cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III – although no final official decision has been made yet. The deadline for making the fifth-year option declarations occurs next week.

Hargreaves’ fifth-year option would be north of $9 million for the 2020 season and the Bucs could rescind that offer and cut him after if he doesn’t perform well in 2019. That could be a bargain if Hargreaves stays healthy and plays well in Todd Bowles’ new press man coverage scheme – and that’s a big if, as Hargreaves has missed 22 games over the past two years due to injury.

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The cornerback market has exploded in recent years with 17 players making at least $10 millions or more per year, including Kareem Jackson, who signed with Denver for $11 million per year this offseason at age 31.

Hargreaves is slated to earn $2,383,317 in base salary this year and has a cap value of $4,511,076 due to the 2019 portion of the $8,511,026 signing bonus he received back in 2016.

Tampa Bay traded down with Chicago from the ninth overall pick to the 11th selection to draft Hargreaves, who became an instant starter in a trial-by-fire rookie season. Hargreaves gave up the most receiving yards of any cornerback as a rookie, starting 16 games and recording 76 tackles, nine pass breakups, one forced fumble and one interception.

Hargreaves struggled in his second season, playing in just nine games with seven starts as he dealt with confidence issues and a hamstring injury, which prompted him to go on injured reserve after recording 42 tackles and five pass breakups. Hargreaves found his confidence and played much better in the 2018 training camp and preseason, but was lost for the year with a shoulder injury in Week 1 that required surgery after he notched seven tackles, one pass breakup and a forced fumble.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht picked up the fifth-year options of former first-round picks wide receiver Mike Evans (2014) and quarterback Jameis Winston (2015) over the last two years.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

16 COMMENTS

  1. What has he done to warrant this? I get we need a body but outside of that he’s been a titanic bust, so was that entire class.

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  2. Get a DT, CB and DE/OLB in round 1-3. Come back and get a LB in the 4th, RB in the 5th, DT in the 6th, DB/OL in the 7th

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    Rating: -7. From 11 votes.
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  3. Of course they will option him. They still hold all the cards on releasing him if he has another injury riddled campaign.

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    Rating: +6. From 8 votes.
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  4. He’s a press corner that was forced to play off coverage under Mike Smith. If Smith was straight up with Licht about what type of players he really needed to run his crappy scheme instead of telling him “just give me players” , then hopefully would’ve drafted an off coverage CB instead.

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  5. If you could control the draft and go back to 2016, which choice would you make?

    A. Draft Hagreaves in 2016 and Vita Vea in 2018.
    B. Draft Laremy Tunsil in 2016 and picking Derwin James in 2018

    I think one of the reasons James wasn’t drafted last year was because Tampa had spent a high first round pick on a defensive back 2 years prior.

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    Rating: +5. From 7 votes.
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  6. Arians and Bowles must really believe that Vernon has been put in a bad position with the previous coaches. I’m hoping he does end up playing like the guy we drafted him to be.

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  7. @thewbacca Neither and both. I would keep Vea because that guy is a stud, but I would definitely take Tunsil over Hargreaves.

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    Rating: -2. From 4 votes.
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  8. No reason not to pick it up. If he plays well he’s a cheap option in 2020 at $9M. If he under performs or gets injured again you can release him.

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    Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
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  9. Fingers crossed he does not suffer another season ending injury this year. While highly unlikely considering his history that hurdle has to be overcome first before his effectiveness can be evaluated. He has shown glimpses into being effective but never sustained due to injury problems (like last year he was playing well but it was only one game in and he was out for the season).

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  10. Bucs are the king of compounding errors. VH3 has done nothing to warrant having his 5th year option picked up. That option is guaranteed for injury and if Hargreaves ends the season on IR once again, you can bet your ass he’ll fail his physical and get all the money.

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  11. Way too early to even bother with this…..

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  12. As stated above, the deadline to make 5th year option declarations is next week. So I’m not sure why you think it is too early..

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  13. thewbacca Apr. 24, 2019 at 2:59 pm
    If you could control the draft and go back to 2016, which choice would you make?

    A. Draft Hagreaves in 2016 and Vita Vea in 2018.
    B. Draft Laremy Tunsil in 2016 and picking Derwin James in 2018

    With the defensive coaches we had during those years, James wouldn’t have made a difference, and there was no way in hell Licht would have drafted LAremy Tunsil to play either tackle spot after investing a 2nd round pick the previous year.

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  14. If Hargreaves can stay healthy, I think he’ll reward the faith the coaches and fans have had in him. He showed his potential during the Saints game right up until he got injured, so I’m going to assume he’ll pick up where he started last year.

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  15. @chewbacca stay at 1st #9 and trade our 2nd #39 (Spence) to move up to Dallas at =#4 to draft Jalen Ramsey in front of Jacksonville at #5.

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  16. That look in the rear view mirror sure is clear. Woulda, coulda, shoulda after the fact.

    It’s difficult to assess VH3 when he was forced to play an unfamiliar style, then get injured again and again. If the player is worth keeping to play in a style that suits him best, picking up the 5th year option is the most economical way.

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