FOXBORO, Mass. — Presented with the opportunity to lock up recently acquired defensive tackle Danny Shelton for the next two seasons, the New England Patriots declined to do so.
The Patriots earlier this month chose not to pick up the fifth-year option in Shelton’s rookie contract, which would have kept him in New England through the 2019 season. He’s now scheduled to hit free agency next spring, though the Patriots have plenty of time to sign him to an extension before then if they so choose.
Speaking with reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium, Shelton, who spent his first three seasons with the Cleveland Browns, admitted he was disappointed to hear his option had not been picked up.
“Obviously, it sucked at first,” the 24-year-old said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to think of it as an opportunity. And for me, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be here for the year and to be able to just try my best to dominate and put myself out there and see what happens after that.”
Shelton is set to make just north of $2 million this season. Had his option been picked up, his 2019 salary would have ballooned to $7.15 million.
The 335-pound space-eater never lived up to his draft status (12th overall in 2015) during his time in Cleveland, so it’s not overly surprising that the Patriots wanted to see how Shelton performs in their system before handing him such a hefty paycheck.
New England, which traded a 2018 third-round pick to Cleveland for Shelton and a 2018 fifth-rounder, also chose not to exercise fifth-year options on defensive tackle Malcom Brown and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. All three players were selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.