2015 Compensatory Draft Pick Projection Update (2/4/2015): Additional Qualifying UFAs & Some Thoughts On Playing Time

In the post that contains my projections for the awarding of compensatory picks for the 2015 draft, one reader noticed that I had made no mention of Ed Dickson, who went from Baltimore to Carolina on a minimum salary benefit deal of $795,000 on April 10, 2014.  Indeed, other than for the fact that his deal might be too small to qualify, Dickson is a player that should otherwise be part of the formula the way I have it crafted.  I took a look at the UFA document I used as a data source, and noticed that it was as of April 7, 2014–explaining why I missed Dickson in the first version. I did more research to see if there were any other UFAs signed after April 7 but before June 1.  I found seven such players, but Dickson is the only one that will likely make a difference.  Before I explain Dickson’s role I should probably make a side note about some other post-April 7 players.

In the first version I had remarked that Chicago had a net loss of UFAs but the only one that could earn them a pick (Major Wright) was below the 32 pick limit.  However, because they also signed Brian De La Puente (from New Orleans) on April 8 and Josh Morgan (from Washington) on April 21, there is now no chance at all that the Bears will earn even a hypothetical pick.  Taking Chicago’s place in the “eligible for a pick but below the 32-pick limit” party are New Orleans and Dallas.  For the Saints, of course, the addition of De La Puente is why, but unfortunately the monster signing of Jairus Byrd is still going to cancel out their loss of Malcolm Jenkins, leaving one of De La Puente or Charles Brown as a $795,000 player left that is likely to be under the 32-pick limit.  The story is similar for Dallas even with the addition of Jarius Wynn (going to Buffalo on April 8 on yet another $795,000 deal).  The loss of Jason Hatcher should still be canceled by the gain of Henry Melton, leaving either Wynn or Danny McCray as a pick below the 32-pick limit.

Now, onto Dickson.  It appears likely that he will not help out Baltimore in the end, as the program is currently projecting him to be the 33rd player in line, just below the limit.  However, in certain scenarios where one team would lose out on a pick that wouldn’t result in the gain for another team, Dickson would likely be first in line to potentially earn Baltimore a 7th, as his snap percentage (47.3% on offense) is the highest out of the $795,000 players in the queue.  For Carolina, however, including Dickson could potentially hurt them greatly.  If all four of Carolina’s UFA gains (Jerricho Cotchery, Antoine Cason, Dickson, and Joe Webb) qualify, they will cancel out all four of their UFA losses (Mike Mitchell, Captain Munnerlyn, Ted Ginn, Brandon LaFell).  In that scenario, Carolina would still be eligible for a net value compensatory pick (the value of their lost UFAs is more than two and a half times greater than their gains), but such a pick would still fall below the 32-pick limit.

As an aside, now replacing Mitchell in the 32-pick range is Marshall Newhouse for Green Bay, though there is a chance he won’t qualify either.  Cincinnati is certainly hoping he doesn’t, as otherwise Newhouse would cost them a 4th for Anthony Collins.

Although the unawarded net-value pick is now the only thing that the program is giving to Carolina, if I were a Panthers fan I would still be rather optimistic that it won’t be this bad.  This is because although the program is currently generous with qualifying players, it is likely that some of those “bubble” players earning below $800,000 won’t qualify.  Webb in particular is the one I am most skeptical about, considering that he only played in 2% of the offensive snaps.  That alone should still earn Carolina a 5th for Mitchell in the end, and more non-qualifications could add a 6th or two in their favor.

This has also led me to ponder the role of playing time in the formula a bit more, and whether I should put a greater weight on it other than just as an APY tiebreaker.  Jason has informed me that 45% of the snaps appears to be a critical number in other contract details, and that perhaps such a threshold is in play here.  However, a counterexample can be found from last year’s compensatory pick awardings when Brian Leonard qualified in favor for Cincinnati despite only signing for the veteran minimum of $715,000 and playing in 28.1% of the offensive snaps.  Perhaps the product of 45% with some other threshold is now allowing for players with such a low APY and low playing time to still qualify.  But this is the point where we start to enter the realm of speculation.  For the sake of the program’s operation, I will still allow all of the low APY bubble players to qualify.  There is room to make manual disqualifications (I am still doing so on Jonathan Dwyer given his unique circumstances), but without any such specific facts any guesses on who will and won’t qualify are just that–guesses.  That’s why it’s important to emphasize that this projection will almost certainly not match the official awardings that come out in late March, and why it’s also important to describe the scenarios that could happen that could change this projection.

With that said, it’s probably worth it to take a listing of the bubble players and sort them by snap counts just as an illustration of who may be the most and least likely to qualify, with speculated cutoffs at the 45% and 28% levels added:

Kendrick Lewis$795,00095.4%
Antoine Cason$795,00065.5%
Andrew Gardner$742,50056.9%
Ed Dickson$795,00047.3%
Brian De la Puente$795,00046.1%
45% cutoff
Charles Brown$795,00034.7%
Marshall Newhouse$805,00034.4%
Arthur Moats$795,00034.0%
Jarius Wynn$795,00028.6%
28% cutoff
Colt McCoy$795,00022.8%
Danny McCray$795,00016.1%
Darrius Heyward-Bey$795,00011.1%
Javier Arenas$795,0005.4%
Chris Cook$730,0004.7%
Joe Webb$795,0002.0%

I won’t put together full blown projections on what the compensatory picks would look like if certain snap count thresholds are used, but you should be able to piece together scenarios for certain teams by observing the “Possible Altering Scenarios” section of the main 2015 projections post.

And on that note, I have also restructured that post to include the latest changes, as well as to clean up and organize the post better so that all this information is as easier to understand. (And I know that it will rarely be easy–just a bit easier, hopefully!)

Finally, I anticipate another update to the projection to take place near the end of this month, when the 2015 salary cap is officially announced.  If the official number deviates from OTC’s current projection of $140 million, it could impact the cutoff points between rounds and possibly affect player cancellations as well.