The Raiders must decide by Monday if they will pick up the fifth-year contract option on cornerback D.J. Hayden.
In all actuality, it’s not much of a decision. The Raiders would owe Hayden $8.026 million if they exercised the option to lock him up for the 2017 season. If they decline, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent following the 2016 season.
Hayden’s productive level as the team’s 2012 first-round pick has come nowhere near matching even the nearly $3.3 million he’s slated to receive this year so an $8 million option is almost assuredly off the table.
“We’ll probably make that decision soon enough,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said Saturday at his post-draft news conference, stating the obvious and declining to tip his hand either way.
The Raiders this offseason signed Sean Smith to a four-year deal that includes $15 million in guarantees and go into next year banking on Smith and David Amerson as their starters.
With the drafting of first round safety Karl Joseph, it’s likely T.J. Carrie can stay at cornerback and serve as the team’s No. 3. That means Hayden is probably, at best, the Raiders’ fourth corner in 2016 assuming nobody gets injured.
It was somewhat surprising to not see McKenzie acquire a cornerback in the draft to compete with that group, but he said he likes what he has and nobody was there in the draft at a spot they liked him.
“We think we’ve got a lot of guys that can compete at cornerback,” McKenzie said. “We’re just going to throw them all out there and see who can take the job.”
That all means they like Hayden enough for him to be a guy to provide depth, but don’t bank on guaranteeing him $8 million.