Per a report from Pro Football Talk (sorry again), per a league source the Seahawks are leaning against picking up the 5th year option of James Carpenter's rookie contract. This is as surprising as Kenneth wandering into your room wearing no pants muttering about how much he loves "the Khaleesi", ie completely expected.
In case you are not aware, in the new CBA all 1st round draft pick contracts come with a 5th year option that can be picked up by the team between their 3rd and 4th years. The 5th year option is a team decision, the player can not refuse it. For picks 1-10, the 5th year option is equal to the average top-10 salary at their position, which is the same cost as the transition tag. For picks 11-32, it is equal to the average of the 3rd to 25th salary at their position. The 5th year is guaranteed for injury only.
James Carpenter was pick #25 so you may think his 5th year option would be cheap, but it really isn't. PFT notes it to be "north of $7 million" which is a pretty conservative estimate, Over The Cap estimates the cost of an OL picked 11-32 to be $8.881 million. Which is more than the cost of Carpenter's entire rookie contract, which was four years, $7.642 million.
Being guaranteed for injury only makes the 5th year option a no-brainer in principle, but this prohibitive high cost will make more teams hesitate, and the fact that James Carpenter is injured quite often (as he played at Alabama and all Alabama players enter the NFL hobbled) means there's actually a significant risk you may end up paying the tag's cost (for a player who is injured, too). And if there's no way you could justify that to yourself in normal circumstances, you should probably not pick up the tag, which is why this is no surprise.
This puts some context on the relative "value" of the 5th year option, as in "it has value, but not a lot". We do not have a good overview yet of who is picking it up and who is not as the deadline isn't until May 3rd, but ATL has a tracker up, and with 18 guys accounted for if we add Carpenter, 11 have been reportedly picked up or are sure to be picked up so far. That's an ok number, but then you have to think of who will actually play under the tag, and the likely answer is "not many".
Some may be cut before their fifth year, but mostly the guys who are good enough to have their tag picked up are good enough that you'd want them to stay with the franchise anyway (your Cam Newtons, JJ Watts, etc). So what the tag represents for those players is mostly some added leverage for the team and an extra off-season in which to negotiate their contract extensions, as well as a baseline for guaranteed money (which you're likely to exceed anyway).
The Seahawks not picking up the option doesn't mean much for Carpenter that wasn't obvious already. He has not performed as the team hoped he would, and he will have to prove himself well in this final year of his contract to have any hopes of getting extended. Carpenter has been a study in frustration, a monster of a man with huge upside, but hobbled by injuries, slow feet and ineffective pass blocking skills which has kept him as primarily a part-time player in Cable's cobbled together line. Let's hope he shows more in the final year of his rookie contract.