TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said Thursday that the team will be picking up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Vita Vea. Vea was the 12th pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
"Yeah, it's safe to say that," Licht said of Vea, who miraculously recovered from a fractured ankle in Week 5 to play in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.
"He plays a very pivotal role in our defense. When he's in there, a lot of things happen, not just for him but everybody else around him. The day that we found out that he was gonna come back and play, it was a very big day for all of us, a very exciting day -- coaches, players, scouts, owners, everybody. We were all very excited."
NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up fifth-year options on players who were selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, which will keep them under contract through the 2022 season. It will cost the Bucs $7.638 million.
When Vea was on the field last season, the Bucs' defense had a pass rush win rate of 53%. When he was off the field, it was 46%, according to ESPN Stats & Information. When Vea was on the field, the Bucs allowed opponents just 2.95 yards per rush, and 3.98 yards per rush when he was off the field.
There are unique changes to fifth-year options for 2022 in that options are now fully guaranteed. Previously, they were guaranteed for injury only, which allowed the Bucs to waive cornerback Vernon Hargreaves in 2019 with no dead money on their cap.