2022 Compensatory Picks Potential

The 2021 league year in the NFL officially starts on Wednesday, March 17. The two day negotiating period of free agency commences on Monday, March 15, and this is the time when we would typically get first knowledge of the largest contracts to be signed. With those contracts signed come the generation of compensatory picks for the 2021 NFL Draft, thus it’s time to take a look at what comp pick potential teams might be looking at.

Buffalo Bills

With Matt Milano recently extended, the only other pending UFA that might see serious action on the comp pick list would be Daryl Williams, who got his career back on track in Buffalo at right tackle. With some money to spend on a solid team with Super Bowl aspirations, the time to strike on signing the right CFA may be now. Potential: Very Low

Miami Dolphins

Ted Karras played every single snap at center on a 1-year deal. Davon Godchaux is a young interior defensive lineman that could see a comp pick worthy deal. Finally, there’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of the most popular veteran quarterbacks out there that even on a backup salary could be in consideration. But with only 13 pending UFAs and a team still being shaped for Brian Flores, more work on the free agent market could be in order. Potential: Low

New England Patriots

The Patriots have 20 total pending UFAs even after the new extensions to Cam Newton and Justin Bethel. Combine this with a team that regularly makes an effort to get them, and with previously tagged Joe Thuney not getting tagged again at the top of the list, and that should keep New England on the list somewhere. The only aggravating factors might be having the lowest payroll in the league to improve a roster on a team that missed the playoffs for the first time in ages. Potential: High

New York Jets

There are not many notable potential CFAs on the Jets’ list of pending UFAs (Breshad Perriman? Neville Hewitt?), and like their division rival Patriots, they are just below them with money to spend on a worse roster. I would expect the Jets to be one of the big teams to generate comp picks for other teams than for themselves. Potential: Very Low

Baltimore Ravens

It looks to be typical comp picks season in Baltimore once again for the 2022 NFL Draft. They’re down to only 12 pending UFAs, but they include two previously tagged edge rushers in Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon, a key reserve at the same position in Tyus Bowser, starting center Matt Skura, complementary wide receiver Willie Snead, and the perennially underrated Derek Wolfe. Potential: Very High

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals did not use a tag on either William Jackson III or Carl Lawson, and both players should be in high demand on the market. Combine this with 22 pending UFAs and a franchise that typically is not known for spending, we should expect the Bengals to break their usual drought of earning comp picks this time around. Potential: Very High

Cleveland Browns

Most of Cleveland’s pending UFAs of note that were big contributors last season are on the older side (Olivier Vernon, Malcolm Smith, Terrance Mitchell, Andrew Sendejo), which may depress their comp pick potential. Rashard Higgins is an intriguing option at wide receiver for teams should he not re-sign with the Browns. Like the Bills, a recent playoff team like the Browns might be better suited to make a push for the right CFAs right now. Potential: Low

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers just emerged from a deep cap crunch, and one consequence is that they did not use any tag on possibly worthy players like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Bud Dupree. Both should expect good deals elsewhere if they leave Pittsburgh. But it doesn’t end there: Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Mike Hilton, and Cameron Sutton are also key contributors hitting the market. The Steelers should be very competitive with the rival Ravens and Bengals in collecting comp picks for 2022. Potential: Very High

Houston Texans

Will Fuller is the only notable potential CFA of note for Houston this year, and given a new regime at both GM and head coach that’s in place, they may want to shape the roster to their own liking with external CFAs from teams they are familiar with. Potential: Very Low

Indianapolis Colts

Long time leading wide receiver TY Hilton leads this list, followed by other long time familiar names in the NFL like Justin Houston, Xavier Rhodes, and Denico Autry. The downside is that all of them are over 30. Younger names that teams might take a shot on are Marlon Mack and Malik Hooker, both recovering from injuries, and Jacoby Brissett could also be good for a high level backup contract that’s comp pick worthy. The Colts have some money to spend but they may also have room to gain some comp picks at the same time. Potential: Moderate

Jacksonville Jaguars

With Urban Meyer now in charge, the Jaguars having oodles of both cash and cap to spend, and with Keelan Cole leading a very unimpressive list of pending UFAs, look for the Jaguars to extend their league leading comp pick drought from 11 drafts to 12. Potential: Very Low

Tennessee Titans

Notable Titans hitting the free agency market are Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown, Corey Davis, Desmond King, and DaQuan Jones, with the eternally curious contractual case of Jadeveon Clowney on the table as well. Last offseason, the Titans broke their long drought of comp picks with quality, focusing on one 3rd rounder for letting Jack Conklin depart, while extending other candidates in Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. This time around, I’d expect more quantity coming Tennessee’s way. Potential: High

Denver Broncos

With Justin Simmons once again tagged, likely on the path to a long term extension, Shelby Harris is the only other pending UFA of note, and his value on the market has high variance to it at that. The Broncos’ needs in free agency are very targeted (cornerback, high level backup quarterback), but especially if they extend Harris this may be a good year for new GM George Paton to acquire more CFA talent if the price is right for now, laying the path for comp picks later. Potential: Low

Kansas City Chiefs

On the one hand, the Chiefs have a handful of intriguing potential CFAs that could similar intrigue teams. Bashaud Breeland, Austin Reiter, Demarcus Robinson, and Daniel Sorensen are among them, and never discount Sammy Watkins getting another big deal based on his high draft pedigree. On the other hand, their offensive line needs a ton of help, as Super Bowl LV demonstrated, and was confirmed with the recent cuts of long time tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, and they may have no choice but participate a little in the CFA market in order to fix it. Potential: Moderate

Las Vegas Raiders

Jon Gruden has never been shy in pursuing CFAs–even when they regularly don’t work out–nor has he been shy in tampering with them, either. With an offensive line decimated by recent cuts, a defense still very much struggling, and Nelson Agholor the only possible CFA of note, I expect Gruden to continue his modus operandi of being a league leader in signing CFAs, creating comp picks for other teams instead of the Raiders. Potential: Very Low

Los Angeles Chargers

Hunter Henry did not receive another tag, and thus he’ll be a leading tight end on the free agent market for teams to target. Melvin Ingram turns 32 but should also still have demand at edge rusher, too. Other players that could get comp pick worthy interest include Michael Davis, Rayshawn Jenkins, Denzel Perryman, and a trio of starting offensive linemen in Sam Tevi, Forrest Lamp, and Dan Feeney. However, given those last three pending departures, of which Trai Turner may soon join them, the Chargers’ comp pick potential could be hampered by the necessity to sign CFA offensive linemen. Potential: Moderate

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys prioritize keeping their own homegrown players–like Dak Prescott–over signing external veterans, and this practice naturally leads them to earn comp picks. This offseason should be no different, with players like Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Xavier Woods, and Tyrone Crawford hitting the market, with Andy Dalton still likely good for a high backup QB salary that would be comp pick worthy. Potential: High

New York Giants

With Leonard Williams tagged again, the defensive lineman that will likely get the most attention in free agency will be Dalvin Tomlinson. Kyler Fackrell could also get some attention after playing out a one year deal in New York, while Wayne Gallman caught some eyes in relief of Saquon Barkley in 2020. An aggravating factor is that there’s not many other notable CFAs beyond this trio, but a mitigating factor is that the Giants don’t have a lot of cap space to work with to pursue external CFAs. Potential: Moderate

Philadelphia Eagles

Never count out Howie Roseman in the quest for comp picks, but this looks like a weak year for him to pursue them for Philadelphia. Jalen Mills is the only Eagle that looks to sign a comp pick worthy contract on a low list of 12 pending UFAs. However, with the Eagles holding a high payroll and low cap space, that might end up naturally creating a comp pick or two for them. Potential: Low

Washington Football Team

The two names to watch here would be Ronald Darby, who may finally get his chance to earn a lucrative long term deal, and Ryan Kerrigan, long a reliable edge rusher but no longer has a path to starting in DC with Chase Young and Montez Sweat now in town. However, Ron Rivera does have cash to spend to improve the team if he so chooses, so there is reasonable doubt as to whether he’ll pursue the path of comp picks down the road, or CFA help right now Potential: Moderate

Chicago Bears

The Bears have 20 pending UFAs, but there’s only two of them that might be comp pick worthy: defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris, and of course Mitch Trubisky, even if it’s only on a backup contract. If the Bears do get comp picks, it’ll likely be similar to last offseason, with more quantity than quality, getting 6th or 7th rounders on the lower end of the list. Potential: Low

Detroit Lions

Kenny Golladay was not tagged by the Lions, making him perhaps the most desired wide receiver that will become a UFA. Romeo Okwara and Marvin Jones round out a list of 18 total pending UFAs. The Lions typically do not prioritize comp picks, but on one hand there is a new GM in Brad Holmes in the building, and like many teams the Lions are on the cap brink. But on the other hand, Holmes may want to immediately craft his new roster to his liking, starting with free agency. If the Lions do pursue comp picks, the priority will likely be focusing on preserving a 3rd rounder for Golladay’s departure. Potential: Moderate

Green Bay Packers

It looks like business as usual for generating comp picks for Green Bay. Corey Linsley and Aaron Jones will be the two leading names to watch here, and despite his playoff struggles Kevin King could get a comp pick worthy deal as well. Combine their history with a payroll that’s already been dedicated to the players they’ve committed to keep, and it would be a surprise if we don’t see the Packers on the final comp pick list. Potential: Very High

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings’ quantity of pending UFAs is low at 11, but they do have some quality to work with here. That starts with Anthony Harris, who will not be tagged again, and fellow defenders in Eric Wilson and Jaleel Johnson. The question will be whether Minnesota has to hold off on signing CFAs of their own to avoid canceling any of these possible departures. Potential: Moderate

Atlanta Falcons

Alex Mack turns 36, but may still have plenty of desire for teams to continue his career at center. Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, and Sharrod Neasman will be a trio of safeties that could also pique attention elsewhere. With other peripheral names like Darqueze Dennard or Charles Harris on the table, there’s no one that stands out for the Falcons but their pending UFA slate is not desolate, either. Potential: Moderate

Carolina Panthers

There’s not a lot of intriguing names slated to leave Charlotte: Curtis Samuel and Mike Davis might be the only headliners. Perhaps Russell Okung can still find attention at a desirable position at tackle. Also working against the Panthers getting comp picks is having plenty of money to spend on a team that still needs improvement. Potential: Low

New Orleans Saints

The Saints surprisingly tagged Marcus Williams, but even with him off the market they have lots of other pending UFAs that will draw interest. They include Trey Hendrickson, Alex Anzalone, Sheldon Rankins, and Jameis Winston. Combine this with one of the most nightmarish cap situations the NFL has seen in years, and it may no longer be prudent to regularly note that the Saints historically don’t care about comp picks. Potential: Very High

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs tagged Chris Godwin, and extended Lavonte David, so those moves, though obviously a net positive for the franchise, depressed their comp pick potential for 2022. But they still have Shaq Barrett to try to also extend before he’d hit the market as a very desirable edge rusher. Other players with contracts expiring are Ndamukong Suh, Leonard Fournette, and while it would seem highly unlikely that Rob Gronkowski or Antonio Brown would play elsewhere, they also are without new contracts. Conclude this with a total of 23 pending UFAs, and even if the Bucs succeed in extending Barrett, they should still be in play for comp picks. Potential: Moderate

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are tied for the lead with a division rival with pending UFAs at 26. That alone will put them in play for some form of comp picks. Most of them won’t generate such picks, but there’s enough notable names at the top (Haason Reddick, Patrick Peterson, Kelvin Beachum, De’Vondre Campbell, Dre Kirkpatrick) that they could be in good shape even if they decide to pursue external CFAs to sign. Potential: High

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are the inverse of all of their division rivals: low in quantity (11 pending UFAs) but high in quality (John Johnson, Leonard Floyd, Troy Hill, Austin Blythe, Josh Reynolds, Gerald Everett Samson Ebukam). Combine this with their payroll very locked in on their top players, and their draft capital depleted from acquiring such players, and the Rams will likely appreciate some high comp picks to help fill that void. Potential: Very High

San Francisco 49ers

And it’s the 49ers that are the aforementioned tie with the Cardinals in leading in pending UFAs. And there’s some good names set to hit the market, too: Trent Williams, Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Kerry Hyder, Kendrick Bourne, Kyle Juszczyk, Jaquiski Tartt, and Jason Verrett. Like the Cardinals, the 49ers should have no problem earning comp picks even if they sign external CFAs to replace some of them. Potential: Very High

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks also have a high number of pending UFAs at 21, and like the 49ers and Cardinals there are names that could get attention on the market at the top. They include Shaquill Griffin, Chris Carson, David Moore, Quinton Dunbar, and perhaps most intriguing is the very long tenured KJ Wright. Seattle is not afraid of signing CFAs from other teams if they feel they need them, but they also have a long history of prioritizing comp picks. Potential: High