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Players, agents not reacting well to public waffling on fifth-year options

Every May 3, teams must decide whether to pick up the fifth-year option for first-round draft picks entering their fourth NFL seasons. This year, multiple teams publicly have expressed reservations about picking up the options on 2012 first-round picks.

The players typically hope that their options aren’t picked up. They want to enter contract years with a chance to hit the open market, or at worst to get the far more lucrative franchise tag in what otherwise would be their option year.

But the players, and their agents, don’t appreciate coaches, General Managers, and/or other team executives expressing doubt about whether an option will be exercised. Whatever the intended message, players and agents are inclined to regard the comments as an expression of doubt regarding their abilities -- and as a lack of desire to keep them on the team.

The better approach would be to say nothing about whether the option will be exercised before May 3. No strategic benefit comes from making those remarks, unless the goal is to let a player know that the team may not like him enough to pick up the option before they officially don’t pick up the option and confirm it.