2017 Compensatory Draft Picks Update (9/4/2016)

Now that the NFL’s rosters have been trimmed down to 53 players, it’s time to take a brief review of where OTC’s projections for the 2017 compensatory picks stand.  This year, there have been very few changes from the update from May, therefore I won’t repost the table in this article, and instead direct you to view OTC’s main draft page, as well as the cancellation chart.  Instead, I’ll just quickly review some of the new things to watch out for.

  • The only change to the list is that Buffalo’s 6th round comp pick for Nigel Bradham was demoted to a net-value 7th that falls below the 32-pick limit.  This is due to the fact that Lorenzo Alexander, on a 1-year minimum salary benefit deal of $885,000, is now above the new minimum qualification threshold of $870,000 that emerged after this weekend’s cutdowns.  On the one hand, I expect that threshold to go up again as more players end up on injured reserve and are replaced with new low-level replacement.  On the other hand, it appears that due to IK Enemkpali going on IR, and first round rookie Shaq Lawson starting the season on PUP, Alexander is poised to start, and thus receive a high number of snaps that would increase his value in the compensatory formula.  Alexander is likely to remain on the qualification bubble throughout the regular season, so there will be continual doubt as to whether Buffalo will receive a compensatory pick or not.
  • The beneficiary of a demoted Buffalo comp pick would be Arizona, who for now gets its 7th round comp pick for Sean Weatherspoon elevated above the 32-pick limit.  Also, with Weatherspoon slated to start for Atlanta, and Antwon Blake not in such a position for Tennessee, it’s quite possible that after snap count adjustments Weatherspoon will pass Blake in the order, which could push Pittsburgh’s projected 7th round comp pick for Blake outside the 32-pick limit should Buffalo’s 6th round comp pick return.
  • Another possible team to watch out for is New England.  After free agency wound down, it first appeared that it was highly unlikely that the Patriots would receive compensatory picks in 2017, as they had only lost two CFAs and signed five.  However, Nate Washington, Terrance Knighton, and Markus Kuhn all failed to make the team, bringing them to an even 2/2 difference.  The final name to look out for is Clay Harbor, who did make the team.  If Harbor were to be cut before Week 10, New England would pick up either a 5th or 6th round comp pick for Akiem Hicks.
  • San Francisco exposed themselves to a very minor, but still existing, threat to their 4th round comp pick for Alex Boone when they traded for Rod Streater, who signed as a UFA with Kansas City in the offseason.  If a team trades for a CFA, that player is added to their list of CFAs gained, and is removed from the team he originally signed with. Originally at a $810,000 salary, of which San Francisco will only be liable for $760,000, it’s highly unlikely that Streater would qualify, but if he did, because San Francisco did not lose any other CFAs Streater would have to cancel out Boone.
  • Seattle has been dramatically reshaping its offensive line, and among the new faces are two CFAs, Bradley Sowell and J’Marcus Webb.  However, should the Seahawks change their mind on either of them, cutting each one of them before Week 10 would free up 6th round comp picks for Brandon Mebane and/or Russell Okung.
  • Finally, I’d like to make note of an interesting statement that Jets GM Mike Maccagnan after he traded away a 2017 4th rounder in order to draft Brandon Shell:

    Some of that also had to do with the fact that we had compensatory picks that we’re projected to have next year after what happened in free agency. We’ll still potentially have a fourth-round pick next year that’s a compensatory pick. We just used it a little bit earlier this year. We didn’t actually trade the compensatory pick. We traded our actual draft pick we have in the fourth round next year.

    However, I have projected that the Jets will get nothing more than a net-value 7th round comp pick that’s below the 32-pick limit.  This is because while the Jets did lose Damon Harrison, Chris Ivory, and Demario Davis, who respectively have 4th, 5th & 6th round values, they also signed Matt Forte, Steve McLendon, and Jarvis Jenkins to cancel them out.  I cannot say for sure why Maccagnan expressed confidence in receiving 2017 comp picks.  One possibility is that he counted Stevan Ridley, Darrin Walls, and Antonio Allen among UFAs that the Jets had lost.  But not only did I project that none of them had large enough salaries to qualify, all three of them failed to make the rosters of their new teams.  Perhaps Maccagnan knows something about the relevant contracts that I don’t, but unless such information becomes known, my projection of the Jets’ CFAs lost and gained shall remain.

As we enter the regular season, the final piece of the puzzle will be adjustments for playing time and postseason honors.  The list of 2017 compensatory picks will be adjusted weekly with snap count data.  You may notice some odd changes after Week 1 due to small sample sizes, but I anticipate that sort of data noise to normalize as the regular season progresses.  Once the regular season is over, I will offer my final projection on this set of compensatory picks.  In the meantime, you can check with my account on Twitter if there are any major changes that occur to this list from now until January.