2020 Compensatory Picks Potential

With the deadline for placing the franchise or transition tag on players now in the past, we can take a closer look as to how teams could approach free agency with respect to gaining potential for compensatory picks a year from now. A few of the factors that come into judging potential for each team are as follows:

  • The quantity of unrestricted free agents eligible for the compensatory formula. Teams with more pending UFAs will have more opportunities for players to count in their comp pick formula on the positive side of compensatory free agents (CFAs) lost. Teams that lose a high quantity of CFAs may also be able to sign low level CFAs of their own without risking the cancellation of higher valued CFAs. You can take a look at all UFAs by going to OTC’s main free agency page, and filter the list by UFA.
  • The quality of unrestricted free agents eligible for the compensatory formula. Teams that have a low number of pending UFAs may still have one or two players that are expected to garner a high level contract elsewhere. In this case, these teams may try to eschew signing CFAs to ensure that they can get a high comp pick for the high level players in question.
  • Salary cap space. Teams with a low amount of cap space may naturally get some comp picks simply because they’re unable to spend much in free agency. Teams with the most cap space, even if they have a high quantity or quality of CFAs lost, may have no choice to cancel them out in an effort to improve their roster. As always, you can find OTC’s real time estimates of each team’s cap space here.

Below is a breakdown of each team’s 2020 compensatory pick potential:

Bills

Pending UFAs: 7

Other than the starting right side of their offensive line in Jordan Mills and John Miller, the Bills have few pending UFAs of note. Having a very high amount of cap space to build around Josh Allen on a rookie quarterback contract should also lead Buffalo to be active in unrestricted free agency. Potential: Very Low

Dolphins

Pending UFAs: 16

The only notable young name on the Dolphins’ list is Ja’Wuan James, whose five year rookie deal is expiring. Other than that, the Dolphins only really have long time veterans like Cameron Wake, William Hayes, and Frank Gore that might continue their careers beyond Miami. Don’t look for a lot of action here unless the Dolphins make a concerted effort to avoid free agency. Potential: Low

Patriots

Pending UFAs: 17

Trey Flowers is the leading UFA for New England after he was not tagged. And beyond Flowers, the Patriots have a fair number of players that could attract attention from other teams. They include Trent Brown, Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson on offense, Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown and Eric Rowe on defense, and Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen on special teams. How high of compensatory picks those players could generate could be up for debate, but the sheer quantity should secure New England’s regular appearance on comp pick lists. Potential: Very High

Jets

Pending UFAs: 26

On one hand, the Jets have a very high quantity of pending UFAs. But on the other hand, few of them really stand out in quality. Perhaps players among Jermaine Kearse, James Carpenter, Steve McLendon, Morris Claiborne, or Buster Skrine could get decent deals elsewhere. But much like the Bills, the Jets have high cap space and Sam Darnold on a rookie quarterback contract, and thus the time to pounce on unrestricted free agents may be now. Potential: Low

Ravens

Pending UFAs: 10

This will be Eric DeCosta’s first offseason at the helm of the Ravens, taking over for well know comp pick collector Ozzie Newsome. Will he continue this tradition in Baltimore? Time will tell, but if DeCosta wants to do so, he’ll have to be restrained in unrestricted free agency. On the one hand, the Ravens’ quality of pending UFAs is high. CJ Mosley, Za’Darius Smith, and Brent Urban have all been high performing starters on defense, along with the age defying Terrell Suggs. On offense, Buck Allen could see some attention too. But on the other hand, with only 10 pending UFAs total, the quantity is low. Several good arguments can be made on how the Ravens should proceed, but it shouldn’t surprise to see the Ravens with some form of comp picks as usual.  Potential: High

Bengals

Pending UFAs: 13

It’s setting up to be another typical offseason for the Bengals in this regard. They have a solid, even if not spectacular, number of players hitting the market. These include Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, CJ Uzomah, Bobby Hart, Vincent Rey, Michael Johnson, Preston Brown, and Darqueze Dennard. The Bengals may re-sign some of these players, but since they tend to stay restrained in acquiring external UFAs, they should once be again in good position to reap compensatory picks from those losses. Potential: High

Browns

Pending UFAs: 8

It looks to be yet another year where the Browns have few pending UFAs, and few high level ones among them. As a quarterback, Tyrod Taylor may be the only one that could sign a contract valued higher than a 7th round comp pick. Combine this with the similar situation the Bills and Jets are in with high cap space and Baker Mayfield on a rookie quarterback contract, and yet again the case is strong for the Browns to spend now. Potential: Very Low

Steelers

Pending UFAs: 14

This will finally be the year that Le’Veon Bell hits the open market. With the Steelers choosing not to trade him earlier, all that’s left now for possible compensation in return is a 3rd round comp pick. With 13 other players with expiring contracts, the Steelers are well positioned to ensure they get a comp pick for Bell even if they do acquire compensatory free agents of their own. Players to go along with Bell like Jesse James and Ramon Foster should help that cause. Potential: High

Texans

Pending UFAs: 13

With Jadeveon Clowney given the franchise tag, the Texans’ remaining players on expiring contracts include the likes of Kareem Jackson, Tyrann Mathieu, Kendall Lamm, and Alfred Blue. Depending as to how Houston plans to improve their team, they could see themselves end up with a comp pick or two, but they could also decide that a bigger foray into unrestricted free agency is wiser. Potential: Moderate

Colts

Pending UFAs: 12

None of the Colts’ pending UFAs are particularly intriguing this year around. Combine this with the highest cap space in the entire league, and this looks like a particularly good year for the Colts to be aggressive on signing free agents to further improve their team after a solid 2018 season. Potential: Very Low

Jaguars

Pending UFAs: 17

Jacksonville is very limited in cap space for 2019, and that might in turn limit their ability to be aggressive in free agency. That might lead to comp picks arising naturally, but at the same time the Jaguars haven’t proven themselves to care much about getting them, so we might not see anything change with regard to them.  Potential: Moderate

Titans

Pending UFAs: 10

The players that dominate the type of pending UFAs that Tennessee has hitting the market are over 30 contributors like Derrick Morgan or Bennie Logan. Kenny Vaccaro might be a younger name to watch and see if he can recover his contractual value. The Titans can’t be ruled out but they may have to refrain from participating too much in unrestricted free agency in order to get comp picks—and they’re another team that tends to not prioritize them. Potential: Low

Broncos

Pending UFAs: 14

Matt Paradis and Bradley Roby are two starters poised to get big pay days. Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett could also see plenty of attention with the Broncos set at edge rusher for a long time with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Other players like Brandon Marshall, Jeff Heuerman, Jared Veldheer, Domata Peko, and Zach Kerr could be on the table. The Broncos are not averse to signing CFAs of their own if they feel they will best improve the team, but given their history of including options in contracts to manipulate the compensatory pick system they should be expected to be mindful of garnering some comp picks if they feel it’s appropriate. Potential: High

Chiefs

Pending UFAs: 14

The Chiefs have many notable names hitting the market in 2019 even without Dee Ford being on that list due to being franchise tagged. Spencer Ware, Anthony Sherman, Chris Conley and Mitch Morse are starters on offense to watch, while on defense keep an eye on Allen Bailey, Steven Nelson, and Orlando Scandrick. The Chiefs are well positioned to pick who they want to keep and who they want to let walk, with compensatory picks waiting in the wings of who they do let walk. Potential: Very High

Chargers

Pending UFAs: 14

There are a few of the Chargers’ pending UFAs that could get attention from other teams in the league. Jason Verrett and Denzel Perryman are full of talent but have had problems staying healthy. Three defensive linemen in Darius Philon, Damion Square, and Brandon Mebane could still provide depth in rotation for teams. Kyle Emanuel could also be allowed to leave with Uchenna Nwosu wating in the wings behind him. There’s potential for the Chargers to lean either way as to how they want to treat free agency this year. Potential: Moderate

Raiders

Pending UFAs: 23

The Raiders lead the league in pending UFAs, but they only did so because Jon Gruden went on a spending spree last year of acquiring long tenured veterans on short deals. 13 of these 23 players will turn 30 or older in 2019. As such, there’s not much quality to be had among this group. Jared Cook might be the only name of particular note, unless someone like Johnathan Hankins can reclaim his contractual value. Given that Gruden wants to be aggressive in shaping the Raiders into his own mold, we may see some very high churn on this roster, and in the end, if the Raiders do end up losing more compensatory free agents than they sign, the corresponding picks resulting may only be 7th rounders or picks beyond the 32-pick limit. Potential: Low

Cowboys

Pending UFAs: 14
OTC Top 100 Free Agents:

DeMarcus Lawrence is the leader of this list again, but he may end off the list again with another tag. Beyond him, only Cole Beasley is really of note. The Cowboys are mindful of collecting compensatory picks, but unless they let Lawrence walk they not have much to work with this year. Potential: Low

Giants

Pending UFAs: 16

Landon Collins is the leading name among three starting defensive backs with expiring contracts—the other two being Curtis Riley and BW Webb. Beyond that, there’s not many pending UFAs of note, but there’s enough of them that Giants fans could reap some comp picks for those they let walk if they choose to take it easy in unrestricted free agency this time around.  Potential: Moderate

Eagles

Pending UFAs: 15

By declining a $20 million option on Nick Foles, he should enter the pool of UFAs eligible to become compensatory free agents, and any quarterback capable of getting a starter level deal will be securely in the 3rd round range of the formula. But it doesn’t end there: the Eagles also have Ronald Darby, Jordan Hicks, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Graham hitting the market—as well as Golden Tate, who they acquired in a trade with the possible intention of getting back draft capital via compensatory picks. If the Eagles don’t plan on keeping some of these players, look for them to pull out all options available to make sure they get comp picks for them, given that they’ve proven themselves devoted to that cause last offseason. Potential: Very High

Redskins

Pending UFAs: 17

The Redskins have a high quantity of free agents, but unlike last year the quality isn’t as sky high. Still, players like Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Jamison Crowder, and Preston Smith could get decent deals on the market that could be valued higher than 7th rounders in the compensatory formula. The real question, however, is whether Washington will revert back to their mode of prioritizing UFAs over comp picks, or whether last offseason signaled any lasting chance in philosophy. Potential: Moderate

Bears

Pending UFAs: 14

Historically, the Bears don’t care about compensatory picks. But this offseason could be an opportunity for them to break that indifference if they so choose. They’re on the low end of cap space, and a few players like Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan that could get some good deals on the market. The question will be whether the Bears feel that they should hold off on signing CFAs of their own–and typically, they don’t. Potential: Moderate

Lions

Pending UFAs: 14

Ziggy Ansah was not tagged again, meaning the Lions could be in good position to assure a high comp pick for him if they wish. But beyond Ansah, the Lions are likely looking at little more than chances for 7th round comp picks, and they may judge that striving for that isn’t worth it. Potential: Low

Packers

Pending UFAs: 11

Will it be a new day in Green Bay with Brian Gutekunst presiding over a team with a new head coach? There are some high reputation names hitting the market like Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, and Muhammad Wilkerson, and the likes of Bashaud Breeland or Jake Ryan getting decent deals can’t be ruled out either. The problem is that with a low number of pending UFAs, the Packers may have to hold back in unrestricted free agency to get comp picks for them. Ted Thompson clearly would have done this, but with a franchise in flux Gutekunst may find it more prudent to strike in free agency now instead of waiting for compensatory picks in 2020. Potential: Moderate

Vikings

Pending UFAs: 13

Anthony Barr, Sheldon Richardson, and Latavius Murray are all players that could get good deals elsewhere, and they may very well do so given Minnesota’s low cap space. There are a few other lower level pending UFAs like Tom Compton or Dan Bailey that could help pad their compensatory free agents lost if they have desires to improve their roster with signing CFAs of their own while still getting comp picks for their higher valued losses. Potential: High

Falcons

Pending UFAs: 14

Grady Jarrett was given the franchise tag, and by doing so that considerably dulled Atlanta’s comp pick potential, There’s a broad array of players serving various roles for the Falcons in 2018 that might fetch decent deals elsewhere, and the Falcons do have somewhat low cap space after tagging Jarrett. But if the Falcons do receive compensatory picks, they might not be more than 7th rounders. Potential: Low

Panthers

Pending UFAs: 16

The Panthers saw several notable potential CFA candidates be removed from consideration, due to either retirements (Julius Peppers, Ryan Kalil) or extension (Eric Reid). The majority of remaining players are turning 30 or older, which might dull their value in free agency. But among the minority of younger players include Daryl Williams and Devin Funchess. That’s something to work with, and given that the Panthers are on the lower end of cap space across the league, they could be positioned to collect comp picks if they so choose. Potential: Moderate

Saints

Pending UFAs: 16

The Saints made a trade for Teddy Bridgewater, a quarterback who could still end up getting a very good deal on the option market. They have a smattering of other notable names with expiring contracts, such as Mark Ingram, PJ Williams, Alex Okafor, and Dez Bryant. They also have very low cap space to work with. But there may be no team that puts a lower priority on compensatory picks than the Saints, so it may not amount to much in the end. Potential: Low

Buccaneers

Pending UFAs: 14

Kwon Alexander and Adam Humphries are two young players that could see their earnings rise as vested veterans. Among older players, one can never count out Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brent Grimes from continuing their careers. Combine this with low cap space available for the Bucs to work with, and they have a chance to see themselves on the 2020 compensatory pick list. Potential: Moderate

Cardinals

Pending UFAs: 18

The Cardinals don’t have any notable players that could be attractive in free agency. Combine this with high cap space, Josh Rosen on a rookie quarterback deal, and being one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, and the case for the Cardinals to be aggressive in unrestricted free agency to emerge from this abyss becomes strong. Potential: Very Low

Rams

Pending UFAs: 13

Lamarcus Joyner, Rodger Safford, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler are a quartet of players that could find considerable interest in free agency. A total of 13 pending UFAs total should also allow the Rams to sign a CFA or two of their own without canceling out their higher losses. With the team well positioned for the future, they could afford to choose again to reap the benefits of the compensatory pick system. Potential: High

49ers

Pending UFAs: 8

Even with their habit of setting up team options to manipulate the comp pick formula, San Francisco still has the fewest number of pending UFAs in the league, and none of them are of particular note. Combine that with a high amount of cap space and coming off a poor season, and it doesn’t make much sense for the 49ers to eschew free agency in the name of collection compensatory picks. Potential: Very Low

Seahawks

Pending UFAs: 13

Legion of Boom alumni Earl Thomas and KJ Wright have expiring contracts alongside Justin Coleman on defense, and JR Sweezy and DJ Fluker can’t be counted out for possible raises in pay either on the offensive line. That’s what’s on the table for the Seahawks to resume their compensatory pick collection, but they have also proven that they aren’t going to hold their roster building hostage just for that goal. Potential: Moderate

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