2017 Compensatory Draft Picks Update (5/10/2016)

With the league offices closing for today, it also closes out the addition of compensatory free agents (CFAs) into the formula for the 2017 NFL Draft.  Note that while last year this cutoff date was May 12, it is my belief that from now on the cutoff date will be the second Tuesday after the NFL Draft, as there are several mentions of May 10 in the official free agency press release.  With the full slate of potential qualifying CFAs now known, it’s time to take a look at the list that’s emerged.

TeamRdCompensated Free AgentReal APY
DEN3Brock Osweiler$18,000,000
MIA3Olivier Vernon$16,750,000
CAR3Josh Norman$15,000,000
DEN3Malik Jackson$14,250,000
LA3Janoris Jenkins$12,400,000
BAL3Kelechi Osemele$11,200,000
KC3Sean Smith$9,250,000
SEA4Bruce Irvin$9,000,000
CLE4Alex Mack$9,000,000
CIN4Marvin Jones$8,000,000
IND4Coby Fleener $7,120,000
CLE4Tashaun Gipson$7,106,250
LA4Rodney McLeod$7,000,000
KC4Jeff Allen$6,875,000
SF4Alex Boone$6,600,000
CLE4Mitchell Schwartz$6,512,000
CIN4Mohamed Sanu$6,500,000
MIA4Lamar Miller$6,500,000
SEA4J.R. Sweezy$6,500,000
DEN5Danny Trevathan$6,025,000
CLE5Travis Benjamin$6,000,000
ARI5Bobby Massie$5,868,750
PIT5Kelvin Beachum$5,375,000
GB5Casey Hayward$5,100,000
KC6Donald Stephenson$4,666,667
KC6Tyvon Branch$4,000,000
CIN6Reggie Nelson$4,000,000
BUF6Nigel Bradham$3,500,000
CIN6Andre Smith$3,218,750
DEN7Ryan Harris$1,950,000
GB7Scott Tolzien$1,750,000
PIT7Antwon Blake$1,500,000
Compensation below 32-pick limit; not awarded
ARI7Sean Weatherspoon$1,468,750
PIT7Will Johnson$1,150,000
ARI7Bradley Sowell$1,000,000
NYJ7net value97.9%

The most notable observance from this year’s list is that currently, we are set to have a record number of 3rd and 4th round compensatory picks awarded, at seven and twelve. (There were six 3rd round comp picks awarded in 1997 and 2005, and nine 4th round comp picks awarded just last year.)  Those numbers may not hold after snap count adjustments, but evidence continues to grow that more and more teams are being mindful of the compensatory formula.  Many of the usual suspects like Baltimore, Green Bay, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are prominent on this year’s list, and there are also a couple other newcomers like Los Angeles (Mike Florio reported that they were the first team to agree to a trade including a potential compensatory pick) and Miami (who rescinded Olivier Vernon’s transition tag to ensure he would net the Dolphins a compensatory pick).  With respect to the Dolphins, this led Drew Rosenhaus to talk with some local Miami media talent about his legitimate frustration from an agent’s standpoint with how the compensatory formula is making it difficult to get some of his UFA clients signed.  It will be curious to see if more agents complain about this if the trend continues to grow.

Notable Cases

As with every year, there will be some picks in which there will be a question as to whether or not they will be awarded.  Here are the two that I’m keeping an eye on:

  • Carolina rescinded the franchise tag on Josh Norman on April 20, who then signed with Washington on April 25.  It is my belief that since this transaction occurred before today, Norman will qualify as a CFA, based upon Jeremiah Trotter qualifying in 2003 after his franchise tag was rescinded by Philadelphia on April 6, 2002 and then signed with (again) Washington on April 20, 2002.
  • Russell Okung and Kelvin Beachum (click their names for contract details) signed unique deals with Denver and Jacksonville that start off as a one year contract with a team option for four more years at much higher rates.  It is my belief that the compensatory formula will consider only that first year of the contract, based upon Brandon Browner giving Seattle only a 6th round pick in 2015 instead of a 5th due to his contract also containing a team option after Year 1.  If I’m wrong about that, or if the rules have changed, the following changes would occur:
    • Denver would get a 7th for Vernon Davis instead of a 3rd for Brock Osweiler.
    • Seattle would get a 3rd for Okung instead of a 4th for JR Sweezy.
    • Pittsburgh would get a 3rd or 4th for Beachum instead of a 5th for him.

Names To Watch In Training Camp

For the next few months, the most important thing to watch for with regards to 2017 compensatory picks is if any CFAs fail to make their team’s roster.  If any CFA is permanently cut from their team’s roster before Week 10, they will not qualify for the compensatory formula.  Using a little intuition, there are some teams that could feasibly improve their standing in 2017 compensatory picks if they cut certain players, and other teams that need to hope that certain teams don’t cut some of their former players.  Last year, the most extreme example of that was Shareece Wright getting cut, which flipped a 6th rounder from San Diego to San Francisco.

Teams With UFAs Signed
  • Buffalo: They were very mindful in signing multiple UFAs at low enough levels that should not meet the minimum qualifying APY.  The one exception is Zach Brown.  If he is cut, the Bills would be eligible for a 7th for Ron Brooks.
  • New York Jets: They’re stuck on a net value 7th that’s below the 32-pick limit.  The Jets signed Jarvis Jenkins to play behind a deep position with Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams, and potentially Muhammad Wilkerson.  Cutting Jenkins would incur $2.25 million of dead money against the 2016 cap, but it would also put the Jets in line to pick up a 4th for Damon Harrison.
  • Pittsburgh: They signed Ryan Harris to fill a swing tackle role.  With only a modest $675,000 signing bonus to deal with, the Steelers could be eligible for a 7th for Sean Spence if they cut Harris.
  • Indianapolis: Scott Tolzien is slated to be Andrew Luck’s backup, but if for some reason they go with Stephen Morris instead, the Colts could pick up a 7th for Dwight Lowery.
  • Carolina: Gino Gradkowski is on the bubble of the minimum APY cutoff anyway, but if he is cut that would put the Panthers in play for a possible 7th for Brad Nortman.
  • Seattle: Like with Carolina, Bradley Sowell is on the same qualification bubble, and if he’s cut it would ensure the Seahawks getting a 6th for Brandon Mebane.  Furthermore, the feeling that I get from Seahawks fans is that they aren’t too concerned about Sowell counting against their team.
Teams With UFAs Lost
  • Baltimore: This is the team that has the most to worry on this front, and their eyes will be on Atlanta, who signed both Matt Schaub and Courtney Upshaw.  If one of them is cut, the Ravens’ 3rd for Kelechi Osemele would become a net value 7th unlikely to make the 32 pick limit, and if both are cut the Ravens would be shut out of compensatory picks altogether, a rarity for Ozzie Newsome.
  • Denver: As mentioned above, the Broncos won’t get a 7th for Ryan Harris if he is cut.
  • Green Bay: As mentioned above, the Packers won’t get a 7th for Scott Tolzien if he is cut.
  • Arizona: As mentioned above, the Cardinals won’t be eligible for a 7th for Bradley Sowell if he is cut, but he’s likely to fall below the 32-pick limit anyway.

An Additional Discovery

Finally, after looking at the comp pick results from last year, I now believe that per game roster bonuses considered as not likely to be earned (NLTBE) do not count in the compensatory formula, as they must be considered a type of incentive, and incentives have never counted in the formula.  In most cases, however, this does not cause significant changes to projections.  It mainly helps to explain why certain picks were in an order that I wasn’t expecting.

  • McGeorge

    So the Jets by signing Jarvis Jenkins, cost themselves a 4th round pick?
    Thats a big disincentive to not sign him , or cut him.

    • Nelson Cobb

      They gave him 3 mil guaranteed, so it’s probably unlikely that they cut him. That was stupid, especially considering that they have other factors too during the season that could possibly bump him to a 3 when the season is over. That’s bad managing by the Jets.

  • Yahmule

    Thank you, John Elway.

  • eddiea

    Did i read this right? Besides not signing/giving Osweiler what he wanted,then leaving Denver w/no “real” QB,they might not get a Comp Pick? If so,that’s what they get for being cheap. Both for resigning their own and in contracts given to FAs. Oh well,guess we have to still remember Elway is still “new” to this game, Team Exec

    • Bo Jørgensen

      No you reads it all wrong. Broncos will get the first 3. round compensatory draftpick because Brock Osweiler sgined that big contract with Texans

    • McGeorge

      I don’t agree with your assessment of Elway.
      He wasn’t being cheap. Osweiller is a huge risk.
      He’s unproven. I can easily see him being below average and Texas being stuck with an albatross around their neck for 3 years.
      Osweilers contract was wishful thinking. The Texans wished they had a good QB, so they found a warm body and paid him like he was.
      If there were more teams like that, then Sam Bradford could have had a similar contract.

      • eddiea

        I was actually trying to make a joke,but it didn’t come out right. Since any sane person really knows Osweiler,based on last yr,isn’t worth what Texans paid him. You’re also right about more teams needing to have the restraint Elway has,but you’ve got to admit going w/Sanchez might derail any chance of a repeat. If not,you’re more optimistic/knowledgeable than i am for them

        • McGeorge

          Sorry, I didn’t realize you were being sarcastic. :-)

          Sanchez will be FUN to watch. Von Miller will strip sack their QB, then Sanchez will give it back.

      • Nelson Cobb

        Texans can actually cut Osweiler after 2 years with just a 6 mil dead cap hit. So although it’s a risk, it’s not that big of a risk. And what was the alternative anyway?? Bring back an older Ryan Fitzpatrick?? Keep Brian Hoyer?? PIck up RG3?? Not exactly the greatest options. Even if they looked to the draft for Lynch, that’s just as much a risk, if not more. Worst case scenario, Brock doesn’t work out, they cut him in 2 years and are back in the same situation as they were this year in the 2018 offseason. To win in the NFL requires risks these days, and the Texans took a risk, a risk that I believe was necessary. If Brock is solid, and they’ve put weapons around him to help him as much as possible, they can contend. Good risk.

  • Bo Jørgensen

    You of course mean that Green Bay – not the Broncos – wont get af 7th round if Tolzien is cut from the Colts…

    • Nick


      • Bo Jørgensen

        Can Packers loose this pick if Tolzien is on gameday roster all 16 game but dos’nt play?

        • Nick

          The bigger threat is Tolzien not making the 32-pick limit.

  • jw10

    One question regarding the “cut before week 10” scenario. “Permanently cut” does not apply to players who are “waived/injured,” correct?

    • Nick

      What I mean by “permanently cut” is that they stay off the roster after Week 10. For example, it’s common for teams to cut a low-level veteran for Week 1 to avoid fully guaranteeing his salary, and then bring him back the next week. The Bears did that with Sam Acho last year, and he still qualified for the compensatory formula. That proved critical for the Cardinals, as they needed Acho to qualify to get a 5th for Dan Williams.

      Waived/injured will never come into play with CFAs because they’re always vested veterans that aren’t subject to that designation.

  • Troy Sowden

    “Furthermore, the feeling that I get from Seahawks fans is that they
    aren’t too concerned about Sowell counting against their team.”

    Could you expound on this? Are you saying Seahawk fans don’t think he’ll make the team, or are you saying Seahawk fans don’t care about the pick?

    • Nick

      In talking with Seahawks fans on Twitter, the feeling I got is that he either won’t make the roster or won’t play enough snaps to qualify. I don’t know Seattle’s roster as well as Seahawks fans would, so I would cede ground to any fan who wants to dispute that. But considering that John Schneider has a track record of concentrating on collecting comp picks, my guess is that he’s aware of how Sowell could impact his team’s chart.

      • Troy Sowden

        Awesome, thank you for the explanation. I was pretty concerned that signing Sowell was going to cost Seattle a 6th round comp pick, this makes me feel better, especially since they already dealt their native 4th rounder next year. Now if we could just get them to count Okung’s option in the formula…

        • Nick

          As a Broncos fan, I don’t want that option to count. : )

          • Troy Sowden

            Haha, touche. Pretty sure you’re more likely to be happy how this one turns out. Especially since there’s little chance they’ll even be picking it up.

    • Nick

      BTW, one more point that I should have made above for the Seahawks is if I’m wrong about Okung, and Bradley Sowell doesn’t qualify, the Seahawks’ 3rd for Okung would replace the 6th for Mebane, meaning in the best case scenario Seattle would have a 3rd and two 4ths.

  • AKGrown

    Would the Russell Okung contract, in totality, count in the Comp formula if by the end of the Season his last four years are picked up? Will the Comp picks already be calculated by then?

    • Nick

      I can’t say for sure, but for the known variables the earliest the comp pick formula can be completed is immediately after the Super Bowl, as that game’s MVP could hypothetically factor into the formula, even if it’s a very long shot.

  • Sheriff Joe

    Why isn’t Chase Daniel’s 7 Million per year average contract included as a pick for KC?

  • Humility

    Sorry for the belated observation, but if these are the numbers and represent an accurate estimate of the 2017 comp picks, how/why was the trade made for Jamie Collins for a 3rd comp when the Browns don’t have one? Has something changed?

  • Drew Domalick

    Why does Seattle get Sweezy’s pick elevated to a 3, who didn’t make a Pro Bowl, but Green Bay’s pick stays a 5 for Hayward, who made a Pro Bowl? I thought awards were a part of the formula? I’m at a complete loss for how this happened.