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Saints declining CB Eli Apple's fifth-season option

If cornerback Eli Apple wants to stay with the New Orleans Saints beyond the 2019 season, he'll have to prove to the team that he's worth keeping.

The Saints declined the fifth-year option on Apple ahead of Friday's league-wide deadline, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported.

The 6-foot-1, 203-pound Apple entered the league in 2016 as the 10th overall pick of the draft with the New York Giants before joining the Saints via trade in October 2018. Apple started 10 games for the Saints the past season, solidifying the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite of Marshon Lattimore while totaling 52 tackles, two interceptions and nine passes defensed.

Apple, who would've made an estimated base salary of $13 million in 2020 under a fifth-year option, will make a base salary of $2.5 million with plenty of motivation to prove he's worth a pay raise either with a return to the Saints or on the open market.

The Saints cornerback position currently projects as Lattimore and Apple as the top two, with Patrick Robinson, Marcus Sherels, P.J. Williams and Ken Crawley, among others, rounding out the group.

New Orleans previously exercised the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, the 12th overall pick of the 2016 draft.

Click here to see NFL.com's tracker of the first-round picks from 2016 receiving the fifth-year option.

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