TAMPA — The decision the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to make about defensive end Adrian Clayborn has apparently been made.
Clayborn’s agent, Blake Baratz, told The Tampa Tribune on Thursday the team told him it will not to pick up the $6.969-million, fifth-year option on Clayborn’s rookie contract.
Even if the Bucs had picked up the option, the salary would not have been guaranteed. That prompted Clayborn to say this week the issue mattered little to him either way.
“No matter what, I still have to come out and have a good year,’’ said Clayborn, entering his fourth NFL season.
A first-round pick (20th overall) of the Bucs in 2011, Clayborn had 7.5 sacks as a rookie right end, but missed all but three games of his second season with a knee injury.
Clayborn came back last year, but recorded only 5.5 sacks. That led to the signing of free agent right end Michael Johnson, whose presence has sparked a move to left end for Clayborn.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith said the team has a plan for Clayborn, who could still negotiate a long-term contract before entering the free-agent market in 2015.
“We have something in mind for him,’’ Smith said. “We like what Adrian did last year and he’s one of the guys we’re counting on this year and he needs to play well this year, and he realizes that.
“Whatever we decide is good for him and I don’t think he’s really worried about it an awful lot. He knows he’s going to be with us this year and that’s all that anybody is promised.’’