FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Atlanta Falcons exercised the fifth-year option on safety Keanu Neal's contract on Wednesday.
Neal, 23, was selected by the Falcons with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has started every single game he's played during his three-year NFL career and was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2017 season.
Neal tore his ACL in the Falcons' season opener of the 2018 season and was sidelined for the remainder of the year. Since entering the league, Neal has recorded 220 tackles, 14 pass defenses, eight forced fumbles and one interception.
Since the most recent NFL collective bargaining agreement, which took effect in 2011 and put in place the fifth-year option on first-round rookie contracts, the Falcons have exercised the fifth-year option on each player they've selected in the first round. Atlanta utilized the fifth-year option on receiver Julio Jones in 2014, but he agreed to a long-term extension with the team prior to the final year of his rookie deal.