How Micah Parsons’ Fifth-Year Option Sets Up Contract Battle With Cowboys

The 24-year-old Parsons had his fifth-year option exercised on Tuesday night, but it was as a defensive end and not a linebacker.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates his sack against the Arizona Cardinals
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates his sack against the Arizona Cardinals / Joe Rondone / The Republic / USA TODAY

The Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of a pivotal offseason after a disappointing end to the 2023 season. 

The Cowboys don’t have much cap space to work with, but they still have various needs to fill while ensuring they keep their star players in Dallas for the foreseeable future. On Tuesday night, the Cowboys exercised former first-round pick Micah Parsons’ fifth-year option, which isn’t surprising as he’s one of the premier edge rushers in the NFL at age 24.

However, what caught fans and the media’s attention was that Parsons was designated as a defensive end, not a linebacker, saving the Cowboys $3 million. This contractual decision was made by the NFL Council Management, not Dallas, according to Ari Meirov.

According to Meirov, the fifth-year option for the linebacker position is $24.3 million, while the fifth-year option for a defensive end is $21.3 million.

It would be shocking to see Parsons play on the fifth-year option next season, as the Cowboys would like to get him locked in for multiple years. However, the price differential between a long-term deal for a defensive end and a linebacker is stark.

If you look at the highest defensive end contracts (value) currently in the NFL, Nick Bosa leads the way at $170M, followed by Myles Garrett ($125M), Von Miller ($120M), Montez Sweat ($98M), and Maxx Crosby ($94M).

However, when you look at the highest outside linebacker contracts (value) in the league, Khalil Mack is at ($141M), followed by Joey Bosa ($135M), T.J. Watt ($112M), Bradley Chubb ($110M), and Rashan Gary ($96M).

As you can see, there’s a $29 million difference between Bosa and Mack, who signed five-year deals. If I’m Parsons’ agent, this is something to bring up in negotiations, as he’ll have a chance to reset the market for pass rushers. If Bosa is getting $170M, one can only imagine how much money Parsons will get as a defensive end, which could ultimately work out in his favor.

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