2015 Compensatory Draft Pick Projection Update (2/18/2015): A Change To Same-Round Cancellations & Cutoffs By Round, Plus Some Thoughts On LeGarrette Blount

Since this is the first year I have set out to project the NFL’s compensatory draft picks (via a program built using OTC’s data), I anticipated that there would be mistakes along the way as part of simply learning more of the process. I have already issued a couple corrections as I have learned more, and I’ve anticipated all along that when the official picks are announced in late March that there will be several misses that the program will make.

After doing more research from the hard work done by AdamJT13 (whose work is cited as a primary source in my program), I discovered an additional condition that I had programmed incorrectly in previous versions. Adam made this discovery after the release of the 2007 comp picks:

— Signed players always cancel out the player lost with the HIGHEST value in the same round or lower (but as I said above, never a player in a higher round). If a team loses a player with a high seventh-round comp value and another player with a low seventh-round comp value, and if that team signs a player with an even lower seventh-round comp value, the signed player would cancel out the higher seventh-rounder, even though his value was closer to (and even less than) the low seventh-rounder.

As originally written, my program made its same-round cancellations based on whose APY was closer between the gained and lost player(s). Using the Broncos’ 4th round players lost/gained as an example (with Eric Decker being cancelled out already by 3rd round valued Aqib Talib), since TJ Ward ($5.625M APY) had to cancel out one of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($7M APY) or Zane Beadles ($6M APY), I had figured that Ward would cancel out the player with the more closer value, which would be Beadles. However, this clause discovered by Adam would instead demand that Ward cancels out Rodgers-Cromartie. The end result is that although the Broncos should still be awarded a 4th round comp pick, its order would fall two spots lower, behind comp picks for Arthur Jones (Baltimore, $6.6M APY) and Golden Tate (Seattle, $6.2M APY)

Fortunately, after instituting this change in the program, for rounds 3-6 the change in Denver’s 4th being awarded for Beadles instead of Rodgers-Cromartie is the only change from the previous projection that took place. However, for round 7 it jumbled things around considerably. Here is a list of the changes in that round that took place when this condition was changed in the program:

  • Arizona’s 7th is now for Antoine Cason instead of Jim Dray.
  • Kansas City’s 7th is now for Kendrick Lewis instead of Quintin Demps.
  • San Francisco’s possible 7th is now for Colt McCoy instead of Anthony Dixon (and drops below the 32-pick limit).
  • One of Indianapolis’s possible 7ths is now for Darrius Heyward-Bey instead of Kavell Conner (and drops below the 32-pick limit).
  • With the pick for San Francisco and one of the picks for Indianapolis falling below the 32-pick limit, they have been replaced by picks for Ed Dickson (Baltimore) and Charles Brown (New Orleans).

It must be emphasized that all of these changes in the 7th round are still very tentative. These low-end picks depend heavily on who qualifies for the formula and who doesn’t. It is quite possible that the picks that the program is now awarding to Baltimore and New Orleans will not be officially awarded, and also possible that the picks that teams like San Francisco and Indianapolis have below the 32-pick limit will move up the pecking order in the official release. In the main post for the 2015 projections I have an entire section devoted to those scenarios, and it has been updated to reflect this change in the program.


The above mistake was due to understandable ignorance in a very detailed condition of the formula that nonetheless resulted in several changes. However, this second mistake, while unlikely to change anything at all in the projections, is one that frankly came from a brain fart on my part. I had previously stated that the cutoffs between each round would be dependent on the declaration of the 2015 salary cap that should come in a couple of weeks. However, this makes no sense as the 2015 picks were based on free agency that took place in 2014. The increase in cutoffs should reflect the increase in the cap between 2013 and 2014, not 2014 and 2015. The 2013/2014 increase (from $123 million to $133 million) is 7.5%, which is higher than the current projected 2014/2015 increase of 5%. Therefore, the cutoffs between each round have been changed as follows:

  • 3rd/4th: $8.2M APY
  • 4th/5th: $5.7M APY
  • 5th/6th: $4.3M APY
  • 6th/7th: $2.29M APY

Thankfully, the only player whose round changes under these new cutoffs would be Ward, barely falling to a 5th round value with his $5.625M APY. Nonetheless, despite that as a Broncos fan I hope this would be the case, I am manually retaining Ward’s value as a 4th. The reason is because he made the Pro Bowl, a factor that increases the value of the player. Although I do not yet have enough information to program the formula’s weight of postseason honors, I would imagine that the mere $75,000 APY difference will easily be covered.

On a related note, I am now more confident that Geoff Schwartz ($4.2M APY) will qualify as a 6th round value in favor of Kansas City instead of a 5th, due to the fact that Schwartz played so little for the Giants (7.9% of the offensive snaps). Therefore, I am removing the scenario of Schwartz being valued as a 5th in Kansas City’s list of possible altering scenarios.


As these mistakes show, I am very welcome to peer review of my work, as I’m only human. The commenters in the main 2015 comp pick projection have been valuable in pointing out errors I have made in the process that I can learn from. It is also encouraging to hear from those who are experts in NFL contracts and the salary cap to also check what I am doing. (Indeed, Jason helped me figure out an earlier discrepancy from last year involving what round Erik Walden had been valued in).

A good example of this peer review comes from Miguel Benzan at PatsFans.com, also known as Miguel@PatsCap.com for his excellent work tracking the Patriots’ salary cap. Miguel took a stab at projecting the 2015 comp picks for New England back on November 24. Contrary to my current projection, he believes that LeGarrette Blount will not qualify as a player in favor of New England for the formula. This matters for New England because, if he is correct, this will cost the Patriots a 7th for Dane Fletcher. Miguel explains his reasoning as follows:

History has shown that players cut before Week 10 are not involved in the compensatory pick calculation. LeGarrette Blount should not qualify for the calculation since the Patriots signed him in November. I expect the NFL to treat LeGarrette Blount as they have done with free agents who were later traded – count against the team who ended up with the player. Since the Patriots ended up with Blount he, therefore, will not be included in the compensatory pick calculation. If he does count as a free agent lost, he should also count as a free agent signed. If Blount does count as a free agent lost, project the Patriots to get a 3rd round pick for Talib and a 7th round pick for Dane Fletcher.


Adamjt13 wrote this about traded players – “That might not seem fair in some cases, but the player always counts against the team that ends up with him. Otherwise, a team could end up with the player AND a comp pick, which would be even more unfair”. I believe that this also applies to players released by the new team and later re-signed by their old team.

What I find notable about Miguel’s cited precedents is that all three involve trades. Blount, of course, was instead cut by Pittsburgh on November 18, and subsequently signed by New England on November 20. I’m inclined to believe that in this circumstance a cut would be treated differently than a trade. When Blount was cut, it meant that his previous contract (the one that would otherwise qualify for the formula) was terminated. Had New England acquired that qualifying contract by trade or waivers, that would be one thing, but otherwise, why would an entirely new contract crafted well beyond the UFA period in focus be in play?

Though our reasoning may differ, I do agree that Blount should at least be classified as a bubble player for the formula, due to the timing in which he was cut by Pittsburgh. His release was after Week 11, and given Adam’s observation that the cutoff date appears to be before Week 10, on that basis Blount should still qualify in favor of New England. However, it is close enough to the date in question that it is worth considering the contrary, and I will admit that the unique circumstances of Blount returning to the team that could indirectly get a comp pick for losing him earlier is also enough to consider that I could be wrong about his qualification.

The good news is that thanks to another player, we should get a satisfactory resolution on this question when the 2015 comp picks are officially announced. Ben Tate was cut on the same day as Blount. If Tate does not qualify, we will know because it will cost Houston a 6th round comp pick for him. However, if Tate does qualify but Blount does not, we will know that Blount’s unique circumstances played a role in the formula. I would also be welcome for any example from the past to demonstrate whether a lost UFA does not count if his old team re-signed him in midseason after being cut by his new team.