The Cincinnati Bengals will not pick up the fifth-year option on center Billy Price’s rookie deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.
Price now is slated to become a free agent after this season. If the Bengals had picked up his option, Price was set to earn an estimated 2022 base salary of $10.4 million that would have been fully guaranteed, according to OverTheCap.com.
Under terms of the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, the 2022 salaries for players selected in the first round of the 2018 draft become fully guaranteed at the time the options are exercised. In the past, the salary on the fifth-year options was guaranteed for injury only and didn’t become fully guaranteed until the first day of the new league year.
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Price is the first player drafted in the 2018 first round to have his fifth-year option declined. The deadline for NFL teams to make the decisions on fifth-year options is Monday.
The Bengals selected Price with the 21st pick in the 2018 draft.
Price started 10 games at center in his rookie season but has started just nine games on the offensive line the past two seasons combined. Price played in 16 games last season, with his lone start coming in a Week 8 victory over the Tennessee Titans, one of the Bengals’ four wins in 2020.
Under former offensive line coach Jim Turner, Price’s role was undefined at times. At various points throughout last season, Price took reps at center, left guard and right guard before eventually settling back in at center by the end of the year. Turner was not retained after the 2020 season.
Cincinnati hired former assistant Frank Pollack to replace Turner. The Bengals were tied for 29th in the NFL last season in pass block win rate, an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats.
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