The 2017 Compensatory Pick Potential For All 32 Teams

Most of my efforts regarding the NFL’s compensatory pick system have been explanatory, but occasionally I’ll offer some opinions as to how teams can manage the system. Last year I suggested that the Detroit Lions should keep their CFA lost/gained ratio positive to obtain a 3rd round pick for Ndamukong Suh, and that’s a goal they should have satisfied. There may not be a piece of advice as clear cut this year, but there are some observations that can be made as we approach 2016’s free agency season as to whether or not it’s worth it for each team to care about 2017 compensatory picks.

Below the fold, and to the right, I’ve constructed a simple table that shows the total number of UFAs for each team, and then a pair of columns that rely on some subjective opinion. The middle column lists the number of UFAs that could be worth greater than a 7th round compensatory pick, as estimated by OTC’s free agency previews. The final column is the compensatory pick potential grade that I give to each team, divided into five tiers. Alongside the table, I have written a paragraph for each team explaining my opinion on their potential.

TeamTotal UFAsGreater than 7th?Potential
Bengals156Very High
Chiefs145Very High
Seahawks174Very High
Broncos164Very High
Jaguars92Very Low
Raiders111Very Low
Saints150Very Low
Panthers140Very Low
Vikings140Very Low
Falcons140Very Low
Titans120Very Low
Texans100Very Low

* NOTE: The following players have been excluded from the number of UFAs on anticipation that they are likely to receive the franchise tag:

  • Broncos LB Von Miller
  • Chiefs S Eric Berry
  • Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson
  • Panthers CB Josh Norman
  • Bears WR Alshon Jeffery


Cordy Glenn will be the leading candidate to get the Bills a high compensatory pick if he walks. Nigel Bradham is another starter to watch out for, and Richie Incognito can’t be completely ruled out either. The problem for the Bills is that they have only 7 UFAs eligible to become CFAs, tied for the lowest in the league. If they want any compensatory picks, they’ll have to resist hard from signing UFAs of their own—although having one of the tightest 2016 caps could help in that regard. Potential: Moderate


Like the Bills, the Dolphins have little cap space, so they will be unlikely to be able to be major free agency players. This could increase the chances of having to let the likes of Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller, or Rishard Matthews walk. The question will be whether they buy low with UFAs or SFAs. Potential: Moderate

New England

I am including Jerod Mayo among the Patriots’ potential UFAs, as he has a team option on his contract, a feature that last offseason allowed New England to master the compensatory pick formula like none other. But the other reason I’m including Mayo is because this year they just don’t have the UFAs to work with other than him this year. Mayo’s decline might not let the Patriots get much more than a 6th for him, and the likes of LeGarrette Blount or Akiem Hicks appear hard to imagine the Patriots getting much more than 7ths for them. Potential: Low

NY Jets

I’m excluding Muhammad Wilkerson because he’s a likely franchise tag candidate, and any departure from the Jets could involve a trade yielding more than even a 3rd round compensatory pick. But there is more to work with for the Jets than Wilkerson. Ryan Fitzpatrick is also a UFA, though you could easily argue that the Jets would be better off re-signing him. They also have another starting defensive lineman (Damon Harrison) that could walk, as well as starting LB Demario Davis. Having the second highest number of pending UFAs at 20 can also ensure that they can sign UFAs of their own while keeping their CFA lost/gained ratio positive. Potential: High


We all know Ozzie Newsome strives to get compensatory picks, and once again he has some UFAs slated to get decent picks. Kelechi Osemele leads the way, but there are also potential reserves in Courtney Upshaw, Albert McClellan, Matt Schaub and Justin Tucker. However, this is also the rare year where everything seems to have fallen apart for the Ravens. Will Newsome continue to be patient in looking for only SFAs? My guess is that he at least assures that he gets a good comp pick for Osemele should the Ravens let him walk. Potential: Moderate


The Bengals have a lot of names that could get them good compensatory picks, but some names are loyal soldiers like Reggie Nelson and Andre Smith that seem more likely to simply re-sign. George Iloka is a young safety that could get a nice deal, as well as a pair of receivers in Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Considering that the Bengals do make an effort to get compensatory picks, they certainly can’t be counted out for 2016. Potential: Very High


Alex Mack is being counted in here as the expectation is that he voids his contract. But even counting Mack, the Browns have only 7 pending UFAs, tied for lowest in the league. But the few that they do have are fairly big: in addition to Mack, there are Tashaun Gipson, Mitchell Schwartz, and Travis Benjamin. Former GM Ray Farmer made an aggressive effort last year to get compensatory picks—will the new Browns regime agree? New regimes tend to want to bring in their own guys, so the question is whether they’ll take in multiple UFAs in an effort to improve a team that was terrible in 2015. Potential: Moderate


The Steelers lead the league with 21 pending UFAs, so for a team that does tend to collect compensatory picks, they should be in good position to at least get some 7th rounders. They could get more than that if they let Kelvin Beachum and/or Ramon Foster walk. However, that would also mean gutting their left side of their offensive line, so they may be better served to just re-sign them. Potential: Moderate


There are some intriguing names here: Jared Crick, Ben Jones, Brandon Brooks, and maybe even the stalwart Nate Washington. A potential problem for the Texans is whether any of them would net a contract that would be worth more than a 7th round comp pick. The bigger problem is that they only have 10 pending UFAs, so that could dent their CFA lost/gained ratio. Potential: Very Low


Coby Fleener, Jerrell Freeman, and Greg Toler are the starting UFAs to look at for comp picks if the Colts let them walk. Some team could potentially overpay for the very experienced Matt Hasselbeck or Adam Vinatieri. Ryan Grigson likes to spend in free agency, but despite that habit he’s been able to squeeze out a comp pick or two for Indianapolis. Potential: Moderate


The Jaguars have had no choice but to spend big in free agency to overcome a greatly deficient roster in recent years, and with plenty of cap space and yet another disappointing year it looks like the job still isn’t done. With only 8 pending UFAs and Stefen Wisniewski perhaps the only notable one, don’t expect any comp picks for Jacksonville. Potential: Very Low


One could pretty much just copy and paste what was said above to Jacksonville and apply it to Tennessee, and replace “9 UFAs” and “Stefen Wisniewski” with “12 UFAs” and “Coty Sensabaugh”. Potential: Very Low


Perhaps no team has a bigger contractual challenge in 2016 than the Broncos. Von Miller isn’t included here because he will certainly get the franchise tag, but if they let Brock Osweiler walk for even a midlevel quarterback deal elsewhere that’s likely worth at least a 4th rounder in the compensatory formula. It continues with Malik Jackson’s looming contract expiration after they extended his fellow DE Derek Wolfe, and ends with many other mid-range UFAs like Danny Trevathan, Ronnie Hillman, Evan Mathis, and Vernon Davis. The Broncos will work hard to keep some of those players, but there’s no way they can keep them all—and that means more compensatory picks for a GM in John Elway that’s proven he likes to get them. Potential: Very High

Kansas City

The Chiefs also have plenty of big names set to hit the open market. Eric Berry has not been included as for he is a prime franchise tag candidate, but there are plenty of other challenges for Kansas City. It starts with longtime names in Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, continues with Sean Smith in good position to get a lucrative third contract, and keeps on going with the likes of Jeff Allen, Jaye Howard and Mike DeVito. Kansas City isn’t slated to get compensatory picks in 2016 (though they are slated to be eligible for two beyond the 32-pick limit), but they got four very good ones in 2015 so there’s evidence they could be interested for more in 2017. Potential: Very High


Coming from the Ted Thompson GM tree, Reggie McKenzie would appear to focus on collecting compensatory picks, but with the league’s second highest cap space and a roster that’s improving but still not there, McKenzie still may have no choice but to do some free agent shopping in order to continue to improve the Raiders. Donald Penn being the only potential non-7th round CFA also doesn’t help. Potential: Very Low

San Diego

Eric Weddle is almost certainly leaving the Chargers, and another beloved historical name in Antonio Gates is getting up there in years. Patrick Robinson is a mid-level cornerback that could contend for a decent deal. The Chargers also have 14 pending UFAs so if enough of them become CFAs they could potentially do some low-level UFA shopping to preserve potential compensatory picks for Weddle and/or Gates should they leave. Potential: High


Greg Hardy leads this list but in my not so humble opinion I hope he doesn’t reach a deal that would earn the Cowboys a high compensatory pick for him. Rolando McClain is also there but he’s had his own troubles in the past. Other than perhaps Morris Claiborne or Nick Hayden there’s not much else on the higher levels to work with, but they should have enough UFAs to squeeze low level CFAs out of if they so choose.  Potential: Moderate

NY Giants

Jason Pierre-Paul’s future market value is up in the air but even on a one year “prove it” deal elsewhere he should get enough to fetch a decent compensatory pick. The same could be said for another first rounder in Prince Amukamara. Rueben Randle could get a decent deal in a depressed wide receiver market. Having 20 pending UFAs (tied for second highest) should put Big Blue in a good position to have the option to get 2017 comp picks. Potential: High


The Eagles started off the offseason with some potential big names hitting the market, but they’ve found it more appropriate to re-sign their own thus far. Still, they have one big name hitting the market in Sam Bradford. He’s had his struggles, but in a league starved for quarterbacks he could still have the potential to net the Eagles a 3rd round comp pick if he leaves. One problem for the Eagles is that they’re down to only 8 pending UFAs (tied for second lowest in the league), but if they go easy on signing other UFAs they might be able to preserve a comp pick for Bradford. Potential: Moderate


Kirk Cousins will be the biggest name to watch if the Redskins are unable to re-sign him. Alfred Morris has proven history that could suit him well on the open market. Terrance Knighton may be able to parlay his one-year “prove it” deal into something bigger elsewhere. 17 total UFAs also helps. But the eternal question with a Dan Snyder owned team is whether they can ever resist from making the big splashes in free agency. Potential: Moderate


The Bears have a high number of total pending UFAs with 18. However, that is excluding Alshon Jeffery as a reliable guess to get the franchise tag. Matt Forte is a name that could get a good deal out of his history, but at 30 he’s getting up there in running back years. The Bears have traditionally not cared much for compensatory picks, and with a roster still evolving I don’t see that changing now. Potential: Low


The Lions wisely took it easy with signing UFAs last year to preserve the highest compensatory pick for Ndamukong Suh. But this year, their notable UFAs are less eye-catching. An aging Haloti Ngata leads the list, followed by perhaps Tyrunn Walker, Jason Jones, or Tahir Whitehead. With the team taking a step back and Martha Ford nuking the front office, I’d expect a wave of UFA signings from the new regime to get their guys in the building. Potential: Low

Green Bay

Ted Thompson avoids UFAs like the plague, and despite some rumored grumbling from Mike McCarthy the safe bet is that will not change for the Packers in 2016. Furthermore, one can easily recite the long list of notable UFAs the Packers have queued up: Casey Hayward, John Kuhn, Mike Neal, BJ Raji, Andrew Quarless, James Starks, Nick Perry, Mason Crosby, James Jones. History suggests that the Packers will re-sign some of those players, but also be willing to let the other ones that will get overpaid get their money elsewhere. Expect plenty of compensatory picks to arrive in Green Bay once again in 2017. Potential: High


There’s not much to speak up on the Vikings’ pending UFA slate (Audie Cole? Matt Asiata? Andrew Sendejo?). Some years, you just don’t have the UFAs to be able to get compensatory picks, and this offseason looks like a good one for the Vikings to be unafraid of signing UFAs to improve their team further and take the next step forward. Potential: Very Low


What I just said above for the Vikings could easily apply to the Falcons, especially since they proved that they still have longer than we thought to fully mold the team into what Dan Quinn needs to be a contender. Potential: Very Low


The only notable name among the Panthers’ UFAs is Josh Norman, and he’s been excluded here as a prime franchise tag candidate. There’s always the chance that other teams could overpay for free agents from an NFC champion, but if Norman is retained there’s little for the Panthers to be concerned about when it comes to 2017 comp picks. Potential: Very Low

New Orleans

With all the Saints’ salary cap woes you’d think they would have had to let some UFAs walk as a result, but they always find a way to mortgage the future to keep their guys. This year looks to be no different, as their pending UFA slate looks bare. Potential: Very Low

Tampa Bay

The Bucs did not pick up Doug Martin’s fifth year option in an effort to get a contract year performance out of him, and that mission was accomplished. The problem for the Bucs is that they only have 10 pending UFAs and are likely still executing their rebuild plan despite improvements being made. Can they limit their UFA signings to ensure a compensatory pick for Martin if he walks? Only time will tell. Potential: Low


The Cardinals don’t have a lot of big name UFAs on deck, but they do have 17 of them pending, and considering that they had a good season there’s always the chance that some of them could be overpaid elsewhere. Arizona is typically a team that doesn’t stress out over getting compensatory picks but they do take unrelated steps that may let a comp pick or two flow their way inadvertently. Potential: Moderate

Los Angeles

With the first wave of the RGIII trade haul hitting free agency, it’ll leave the Rams with some options on letting UFAs walk. It starts with their entire starting defensive backfield (Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Mark Barron, and Rodney McLeod) and ends with Greg Zuerlein, though he can’t be ruled out for the quirky franchise tag on a kicker. Tim Barnes, William Hayes, and Nick Fairley are other names to watch. The Rams have the cap space to re-sign some of them, and they haven’t consistently shown a desire to amass compensatory picks, but this is a year that they could do it well if they so choose. Potential: High

San Francisco

There will be a lot of conflicting thoughts for the 49ers this year. On the one hand, Trent Baalke typically prioritizes gaining compensatory picks. But on the other hand, their roster was gutted by multiple retirements and it showed on the field in 2015. Back to the one hand, Ian Williams and Alex Boone are two UFAs that could net decent comp picks, and Anquan Boldin’s voiding contract can’t be ruled out. But back to the other hand, they only have 8 total pending UFAs, so they would likely have to hold out on signing other UFAs to gain any 2017 comp picks. Potential: Low


Like the 49ers, John Schneider also likes collecting compensatory picks, but unlike the 49ers this year their roster is in much better shape to do so. Russell Okung leads the Seahawks’ UFA list, and after paying a bundle on Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom, Okung could be the odd man out. Bruce Irvin didn’t have his fifth year option picked up and would be a prime candidate to let walk for a comp pick. Some team could take a spendy flier on Jeremy Lane based upon prior high performance. JR Sweezy, Brandon Mebane, and Jermaine Kearse are other names to watch. Potential: Very High