The Chicago Bears have a decision to make regarding the fifth-year option of a first-round pick coming off a season-ending injury who hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.
Indeed, one year after declining to pick up the option on cornerback Kyle Fuller, a 2014 first-round pick who missed the entire 2016 season recovering from a knee injury, the Bears have to make the same call on wide receiver Kevin White – the team’s 2015 first-round choice.
Time is a flat circle.
Joel Corry of CBS Sports shares the fifth-year option salaries for all first-round positions, while also providing a brief breakdown of each player’s situation. From a Bears perspective, the most important number is $13,924,000 – or what the team would have to pay if it chose to pick up White’s option. That’s a pretty penny to pay for a player who has played just five games in three years.
As I’m sure you recall all too well, a stress fracture (2015), a broken ankle (2016), and a broken collarbone (2017) have limited White to just 238 snaps in his professional career. It doesn’t take much more to make a case that White’s injury-prone past makes the nearly $14 million option too much of a risk to exercise when it ultimately comes down to finalizing a decision. But after watching Fuller put together a breakout year and paying him handsomely with a multi-year deal after using the transition tag to retain the right of first refusal, it’s only natural to wonder if the Bears would be willing to see if history could repeat itself.
We explored the idea of picking up the fifth-year option back in March and it’s worth bringing up again now that we’re much closer to the May 3 deadline.
By all accounts, the team seems intent on giving White a fair shot to finally live up to his potential. It sounds like White has the backing of head coach Matt Nagy, which can only help from a confidence standpoint. The Bears’ new head coach has vocally expressed his belief in White’s upside, but explained how much work the player needs to put in to reach his potential. White also worked out with quarterback Mitch Trubisky in California during the offseason, which could be helpful as the two build toward making a meaningful connection on the field.
This would be a much different post if White had any level of production in the previous three years, but he’s either been injured or unproductive. Neither is great for a player hoping to stick in the NFL. If the Bears were wary of picking up Fuller’s option at this time last year, they should probably follow the same path for White in 2018.