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Plot Twist: Timbers Decline Darren Mattocks’s Option

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers are not exercising Darren Mattocks’s 2018 option, after all.

In their initial press release Monday afternoon, the Timbers indicated they were exercising the contract option to bring Mattocks back in 2018. After that release issued, however, the Timbers announced they in fact declined Mattocks’s option. It appears the Timbers declined Mattocks’s option after it was clarified that his salary cap hit would be greater than previously indicated.

According to the MLS Players Union, Mattocks made $316,667 in guaranteed compensation in 2017, and was likely in line for a raise pursuant to his 2018 option. That raise, however, appears to have been greater than anticipated, leading to the Timbers’ change in heart.

The exercise of Mattocks’s option was one of the most significant aspects of the Timbers’ offseason roster moves announcement, as bringing Mattocks back would implicate a significant salary cap hit in exchange for providing additional depth at the striker position.

By declining Mattocks’s option, however, there is some uncertainty as to whether Mattocks will return to Portland. At this point it appears most likely the Timbers and Mattocks will reach a new agreement, but that isn’t certain.

If Mattocks does not return, youngster Jeremy Ebobisse would become the heir apparent to the spot on the depth chart backing up Fanendo Adi while the Timbers would realize meaningful cap savings. In addition, Mattocks’s departure — if it comes to pass — would raise new questions about whether the Timbers will sign a new striker to at least provide competition for Ebobisse.

What is clear now, though, is that the question whether Mattocks will return is not an open-and-shut case of picking up his 2018 option.

Seriously: Stay tuned.