2018 Compensatory Picks Projection Update (9/19/2017)

Now that all 32 teams have played at least one game, giving all players a chance to log snap counts in 2017, it’s a good opportunity to take an update on where OTC’s projection of the 2018 compensatory picks stand.

As is typical, a few compensatory free agents (CFAs) were cut as part of the process to narrowing rosters down to 53 per team. There were two such cuts that were relevant to the projection:

  • The Cardinals cut Jarvis Jones. This caused the Steelers to lose a 5th or 6th round comp pick for Lawrence Timmons (whose own future is complicated at the moment) due to Pittsburgh no longer having a net loss of CFAs. And while this transaction did open up a possible 6th round comp pick to the Cardinals for losing Kevin Minter, Arizona will not get that pick because they are already projected to receive the maximum of 4 comp picks from other CFAs lost.
  • The Vikings released Datone Jones with an injury settlement. This transaction opened up a 6th round comp pick to the Vikings for Cordarrelle Patterson. It also reduced the net loss of CFAs to the Packers, but once again they were already projected to receive the maximum of 4 comp picks from other CFAs lost, so removing Jones from the equation does not hurt Green Bay.

There has also been a rare transaction: a CFA has been traded. After the Bucs signed TJ Ward as a street free agent after being cut by the Broncos, they made room for Ward by trading CFA signee JJ Wilcox to the Steelers.  It is clear from previous comp pick history that Pittsburgh will be charged with a CFA gained by acquiring Wilcox. Precedent for this comes in 2007 when Kansas City failed to get a comp pick due to trading for Michael Bennett, and in 2009 the Seahawks lost a comp pick by trading for Keary Colbert. Combining this with the cut of Jones, the Steelers and their fans should not be expecting any compensatory picks for 2018.

What is not clear is whether the team that traded the CFA away will be relieved of the charge of a CFA gained. In the prior two cases, this could not be determined because the teams that traded away the CFA (New Orleans in 2007 and Denver in 2009) weren’t eligible to get comp picks of their own either way. But this year it will be relevant, as Tampa Bay is a team with a net loss of CFAs that might result in the team getting a 7th round comp pick for Bradley McDougald. Unfortunately, I have no choice to guess, and I will guess that Wilcox will still count against the Bucs, as they have already got compensation for Wilcox via the act of trading him to the Steelers. But if I’m wrong, Tampa Bay will be eligible for an additional 7th round comp pick for Akeem Spence.

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After taking a closer look at early snap count results from the first two weeks of the 2017 regular season, here are a few observations that I have been able to make:

  • The question of whether Denver will be able to get a 3rd round comp pick for Russell Okung, or likely nothing at all, will be very close throughout the regular season, and likely won’t be known for sure until it’s over. It all comes down to whether the formula judges Ronald Leary as a 3rd or 4th round comp pick. Amazingly, the difference could come down to the handful of snaps Leary missed in Week 1 due to suffering a concussion. In doing some simulations, if Leary plays all of the remaining snaps of the season, he should still fall below the 3rd/4th cutoff, and allow the Broncos to get that 3rd round comp pick. But that is just a guess at this point, and there are many factors at play before a firm projection can be made on that front. (In addition, if Leary is valued as a 3rd, the Cowboys would get a 3rd round comp pick for him instead of a 4th.)
  • Barry Church and Martellus Bennett are both hovering closely around the 4th/5th round cutoff point, meaning that the Cowboys and Patriots could see a 5th round comp pick upgraded to a 4th depending on their final snap counts. (The Packers’ comp picks in this regard will also not change regardless of whether Bennett is valued as a 4th or 5th.)
  • Latavius Murray has received minimal snaps to start off the season, only 6.9% thus far, while Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon are getting far more playtime. If the Vikings feel that they can go forward without Murray, they could pick up an additional 6th round comp pick for Rhett Ellison if they cut Murray before Week 10. If that does happen, in addition the Raiders would see their 6th round comp pick for Murray demoted to a 7th rounder for Andre Holmes that might not make the 32 pick limit.
  • Another running back that is getting little playtime is Eddie Lacy. He was a healthy scratch for the Seahawks last week, and it appears that Thomas Rawls and Chris Carson are definitely the primary rushing options in Seattle now. Unlike the Vikings, the Seahawks have no comp pick reason to cut Lacy as they are not projected to get any comp picks even if they did cut him. Furthermore, Seattle has no reason to cut him when the only money they could save is on per game active roster bonuses. They could save that money just the same by continuing to make him inactive. But if Seattle were to cut him before Week 10, the Packers would lose a 6th round comp pick for Julius Peppers.