2016 Compensatory Draft Picks Update (4/3/2015)

With free agency now going at a snail’s pace, I thought this would be a good time to give an update as to where the 2016 compensatory picks now stand. As always, if you’re wondering about a certain player, check in with 2016’s cancellation chart to see if another player has cancelled him out.

Before I proceed, I thought I would spread the news of a couple new developments.

  1. First, Mike Florio has reported that the NFL has shifted the notable date of June 1 to May 12. As Florio astutely notes, once this date passes, Unrestricted Free Agents that are signed will no longer count in the compensatory pick formula. This is good news for teams like the Ravens and Packers who make an explicit effort to jump into the UFA market only after what used to be June 1. Teams can now sign those players and integrate them into their program two and a half weeks earlier. It’s also good news for the UFAs that have been struggling to find a home, as now they won’t have to wait as long.
  2. To verify my conjecture on how the compensatory formula works, I spent some time collecting data from free agency in 2013 in an attempt to rebuild the 2014 compensatory draft pick awardings (of which you may now view in the 2014 tab). Doing so resulted in some good news and some bad news:
  • The bad news is that the program missed several round assignments in 2014 based upon the cutoff ratios I had created for 2015. It was saying that Gosder Cherilus should have been a 3rd, Keenan Lewis a 4th, and Mike DeVito and Dustin Keller should have been 5ths. In order to stay true to AdamJT13’s observance of cutoffs increasing with the salary cap, I have made new adjustment cutoffs that account for this. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be an easily identifiable pattern as I had before. The new cutoffs are now the following percentages of the salary cap:
    • 3rd/4th: 6.67% (or 1/15th)
    • 4th/5th: 4.8%
    • 5th/6th: 3.18%
    • 6th/7th: 2.025%
  • The good news is that I believe I am very close on my playing time adjustment. There was one additional adjustment I added with more knowledge of qualifying UFAs who had low playing time: there is now an additional 25% reduction for players who played less than 15% of their side’s snaps. Once that addition was made the program replicated, as with the 2015 comp picks, the exact order with only one exception. The program suggests that the 4th round picks for LaRon Landry($6M APY, 74.4% of defensive snaps) and Cary Williams ($5.67M APY, 94% of defensive snaps) should have been swapped.

With those adjustments in place, a few players in the 2016 projections had their round devalued. Denver receives the biggest piece of bad news, as the compensatory pick for Julius Thomas now falls from the last 3rd to the first 4th. Thomas may still net Denver a 3rd in the end, but they may need him to play a high percentage of the offensive snaps and/or make the Pro Bowl in order to get it. Cleveland and Green Bay also each have had a 4th demoted to a 5th, respectively for Buster Skrine and Davon House. Vince Wilfork is also squarely on the 5th/6th round bubble for New England, and could go either way in the end.

The current table of the 2016 compensatory picks may be found on the right of this post.

2015-04-03The biggest change to report is that Carolina has sacrificed their potential 3rd round comp pick for Greg Hardy. They did so by signing Jason Trusnik on March 31, therefore making their lost/gained difference equal at 2/2. Carolina had flirted with this earlier by almost signing Alan Ball. Some speculated that perhaps the Panthers pulled out on the Ball negotiations because they didn’t want to put the Hardy pick in jeopardy. But the signing of Trusnik contradicts that hypothesis. Carolina is still eligible for a net value pick due to the size of Hardy’s contract with the Cowboys, but with far more than 32 regular comp picks on the board now, it’s highly unlikely they would get it.

It’s important to emphasize that Carolina didn’t necessarily do anything “wrong” by signing Trusnik. Dave Gettleman may have legitimately decided that acquiring a well-regarded special teams player right now is better for the team than waiting for a 3rd round rookie to join the Panthers more than a year from now.

On the opposite end from Carolina is Detroit. I had suggested that the Lions should be mindful of what UFAs they sign before what is now May 12, so as to not risk losing the 97th overall pick for losing Ndamukong Suh. Detroit has made it clear that they’ve well exceeded those expectations. They are one of only three teams who have yet to sign a UFA this year (Green Bay and Pittsburgh are the other two). They are also tied with Denver for the highest lost/gained difference at 6. At this point, the only harm signing a low-level UFA could do is possibly sacrifice a very low 7th for Garrett Reynolds that may not be awarded anyway.*

Meanwhile, the imbalance of who holds the comp picks continues. Just seven teams (Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, New England, San Francisco, and Seattle) hold 25 of the 32 picks (more than 78%). As another interesting fact, currently there are three teams (Kansas City, Cincinnati and Carolina) that are eligible for a compensatory pick but it lands beyond the 32 pick limit.

At this point, it will be a while before I provide the next 2016 compensatory pick update. The next one should come by May 12, when no more UFAs will be added to the list after that date. Then, we’ll have to wait until the cutdown to 53 at the end of the preseason in late August/early September to look for many more changes.

*UPDATE (2:15 PM ET): As I was in the process of submitting this post, Detroit signed their first UFA this offseason in Josh Wilson. Although some of the fun facts listed here are no longer true, I feel the main point of the Lions taking exceptional care to protect their compensatory pick for Ndamukong Suh still stands.

Questions about this article? Reach Nick on Twitter at @nickkorte