In 2014, the Cleveland Browns picked up the 5th year option on DL Phil Taylor, meaning they could have him under their control an extra year for the 2015 season. The option would be worth $5.477 million guaranteed if Taylor was on the Browns' roster at the start of the 2015 league year. He was on the roster at the start of the 2015 league year, so despite not making the final roster out of training camp, he collected all of that money.
This year, the Browns face a decision on whether they want to pick up a 5th year option on OLB Barkevious Mingo, who was selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. As Joel Corry of CBS Sports points out, players selected in spots 11-32 have a relatively cheap 5th-year option, but players selected in the 1-10 spots have much more expensive options. Mingo was the 6th overall pick in 2013, so his 5th year option would be $11.925 million (to compare, if he had been picked 11-32, the option would only cost $8.369 million).
According to Corry, the deadline for the Browns to pick up the option is May 2, 2016. If they decide to pick up the option, then Mingo would be under contract in 2017 instead of being an unrestricted free agent. If Mingo is on the roster at the start of the 2017 league year (estimated to be March 8, 2017), then that money would be guaranteed. If the Browns cut him before then, he receives none of it and becomes a free agent.
There are a few ways to look at this. If Mingo was an All-Pro player, you pick up the option. He's not, though. What if Mingo shines like a Pro Bowler all of a sudden during the regular season? He's going to command a lot of attention on the open market, and the Browns might be saying, "why didn't we just pick up the option?" Technically, they could pick up the option even if they don't feel he's worth it, since they can cut him anyway without paying it. If that's the case, why not pick it up? Because the Browns might still believe Mingo has a future on this defense, just not in the $12 million range -- maybe they'd like to give him $4 million a year. They can't really negotiate that if he already has $12 million for 2017, and cutting him then exposes him to other teams.
In the end, I see the Browns not picking up the option. If he delivers during the regular season, then they can think about an extension. Otherwise, we'll just let him walk in 2017. What would you do, Browns fans?