ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos have informed 2017 first-round pick Garett Bolles that the team has declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
The deadline to decide on and exercise the option is Monday, May 4.
President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway, however, has decided to move forward without exercising Bolles' option for the 2021 season.
Bolles remains under contract for the 2020 season with the Broncos. He is now slated to become a free agent following the season, which will be his fourth in Denver. The Broncos could still choose to work out an extension with Bolles at a later point, if they so choose.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, teams are permitted to exercise the option on first-round picks following their third season with the team. The fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury and only becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the ensuing league year. As such, a team can choose to rescind the fifth-year contract option following the 2020 season so long as the player remains healthy.
Bolles has not missed a game during his three-year career in Denver.
The fifth-year salary for players drafted in the first round but outside of the top 10 is an average of the third-highest through 25th-highest salaries at the player's position.
Elway previously indicated Bolles would compete with Elijah Wilkinson to start at tackle in 2020.
"Garett's going to compete for a job like everybody else on the football team," Elway said during the 2020 NFL Draft. "The bottom line is [G/T] Eli Wilkinson will be back. They're going to compete for jobs like everybody else. I think it's our job on the personnel side to give Vic and his staff the best players we can to create that competition. That's what our job is to do on the personnel side."
Elway has only exercised the fifth-year option on two of his six eligible first-round selections.
He exercised the option on 2011 first-round pick Von Miller and 2014 first-round pick Bradley Roby. The Broncos signed Miller to a long-term extension following his fifth season. Roby, however, joined the Texans following the 2018 season.
Elway declined the option on Sylvester Williams (2013) and Shane Ray (2015). Bolles now joins that list.
The Broncos released 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch before the 2019 offseason, which is when the team would have made a decision on the fifth-year option.
Elway's next decision about a first-round pick will come during the 2021 offseason, when he must decide whether to exercise Bradley Chubb's option. Chubb recorded a franchise rookie record 12 sacks in 2018 before suffering a torn ACL early in 2019.