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Why the Seahawks should not exercise fifth-year option on James Carpenter

Guard James Carpenter during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars last September
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With the deadline for NFL teams to exercise fifth-year options on 2011 first-round picks approaching, the list of players who have been retained is growing.

A number of NFL reporters have stated that it makes no sense to decline the option because it is not fully guaranteed until the 2015 league year begins – thus there is seemingly little risk to retain control of a player.

But the contract is guaranteed for injury as of the May 3 deadline, which means if a player suffers a long-term injury at any point this year the team most likely will be on the hook for his 2015 contract.

For that reason, the Seahawks should not bother using their option on left guard James Carpenter, who has been very injury-prone over his first three seasons. The price tag for his 2015 option is reportedly $7.438 million (we had thought it would be more like $5.6 million, based on guard salaries, but it appears guards and tackles get the same number).

The Hawks could pick up the option and then lower Carpenter's number through either a long-term deal or a pure pay cut, but if they are iffy on the underachieving lineman anyway (and they should be considering what he has shown so far), there is no reason to utilize the option. They can always negotiate to re-sign him before free agency starts next year if they really want him back.

Heck, his 2014 salary of $2.43 million might even be too much for Seattle. It would not be surprising at all if the Hawks asked him to cut that salary – particularly if he is beaten out in training camp by Alvin Bailey, Michael Bowie or a rookie.

Carpenter seems prepared for the competition; he apparently has been working hard and has slimmed down. On Instagram a week ago, the left guard posted a workout picture and said, "Feeling blessed, healthy and light in the 320s."

Last month, coach Pete Carroll reportedly said the Seahawks have made a decision on Carpenter, but he did not say what they would do.

The smart money says they should pass.