2023 Compensatory Picks Potential

The 2022 league year in the NFL officially starts on Wednesday, March 16. The two day negotiating period of free agency commences on Monday, March 14, and it is then when we would typically get first knowledge of the largest contracts to be signed. With those contracts signed come the assignment of some players as compensatory free agents (CFAs), and thus the generation of compensatory picks for the 2023 NFL Draft. Now that we know which players will be effectively taken out of free agency via the franchise tag, thus it’s time to take a look at what comp pick potential teams might be looking at.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have only 14 pending UFAs eligible (Mario Addison will not be one of them, due to getting his contract shortened in exchange for taking a pay cut), but there are two players that could see some notable attention. One is typical: Levi Wallace will be looking for his second contract after playing over 92% of the snaps. The other is backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who may get a more lucrative deal if teams try to harness the potential that gave him the pedigree of a 2nd overall pick. With a few other older players that might not be done yet (Jerry Hughes, Emmanuel Sanders), and a roster without notably major holes, the Bills could hold out for a couple comp picks if they choose. Potential: Moderate

Miami Dolphins

With Mike Gesicki franchise tagged, the top free agency attention will likely now turn to Emmanuel Ogbah, who is coming off back to back nine sack seasons. But beyond Ogbah, other than perhaps Jacoby Brissett fetching a decent veteran quarterback contract there aren’t many other potential CFAs of note for Miami. Combine this with a new head coach and lots of cap dollars to spend, and this could be an offseason for the Dolphins to strike with filling the depth chart with veterans instead. Potential: Low

New England Patriots

The Patriots took a one year break from fetching comp picks by going all in on multiple veteran free agent acquisitions after a rare year when they missed the playoffs. Now, with New England back in playoff contention as usual, they could shift back toward comp pick acquisition. If so, the primary goal would be preserving a high comp pick for the departure of JC Jackson, who was not franchise tagged, and if he can get more than about $14.5M APY on his contract, that should end up as a 3rd round comp pick value. New England can also maximize the number of comp picks awarded by letting other notable contributors walk, such as Dont’a Hightower, Ted Karras, Devin McCourty, or Ja’Whaun Bentley. Note that Trent Brown will not be eligible to be a CFA once again for the Patriots, as his contract was shortened upon being traded back to New England. Potential: High

New York Jets

With Marcus Maye not receiving another franchise tag, he’ll try to get a top level contract while coming off an Achilles injury. Other midlevel players who could see some early free agency action include Morgan Moses, Folorunso Fatukasi, Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. But offsetting the comp pick potential is having a top 5 amount of cap space, which could also be used to help take advantage of Zach Wilson’s contract in his second year. Potential: Moderate

Baltimore Ravens

With 20 pending UFAs, it looks to be business as normal in Baltimore in their regular emphasis to collect compensatory picks. Among the contributors from last season set to hit free agency are Bradley Bozeman, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, DeShon Elliott, Anthony Averett, Jimmy Smith, Patrick Ricard, and Sammy Watkins. Even if the Ravens re-sign a few of their UFAs, they have plenty of room to max out their 2023 comp picks by letting others walk as CFAs. Potential: Very High

Cincinnati Bengals

Jessie Bates was given the franchise tag, but there are some other players like CJ Uzomah or Larry Ogunjobi that could see some good deals in free agency if the Bengals don’t retain them. However, the Bengals have to offset this with the fact that they have plenty of cap dollars to spend, and they are defending AFC champions with Joe Burrow still on a relatively cheap rookie contract. The time to strike on getting key veteran additions in an effort to finally get Cincinnati its first Super Bowl victory may be now. Potential: Low

Cleveland Browns

The Browns will have 15 pending UFAs after franchise tagging David Njoku, and that will not include Andy Janovich due to not exercising a team option that used to be standard in contracts for the Broncos (who the Browns traded with to acquire him) as a way to exploit a comp pick loophole that no longer exists. Among those UFAs include some midlevel contributors like Anthony Walker, Malik Jackson, Ronnie Harrison, and Rashad Higgins. And as always, Jadeveon Clowney cannot be counted out as he continues to search for that top tier contract coming off being a 1st overall pick. There’s not a lot of quality for potential CFAs coming out of Cleveland, but the Browns could manufacture some quantity if they hold off on signing CFAs from other teams. Potential: Moderate

Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster will try to give it another chance in free agency for a major long term deal after having to settle for a lower one year contract last offseason. The Steelers have a trio of 90%+ snap contributors from last season hitting free agency in Chukwuma Okorafor, Trai Turner, and Terrell Edmunds, and Joe Haden cannot be discounted even as he’ll turn 33 for the 2022 season. That’s plenty for the Steelers to work with if they want to emphasize comp picks, as they typically do–particularly if they do not sign a CFA quarterback to compete with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins to succeed Ben Roethlisberger. Potential: High

Houston Texans

The Texans lead the league in pending UFAs with 29, but among them are very few players that might sign CFA-worthy contracts–perhaps Justin Reid, Desmond King, or Maliek Collins. With another head coaching change and a weak overall roster, Houston may have to back into the well of veteran acquisitions to fill out the depth chart. Potential: Very Low

Indianapolis Colts

This offseason could be a repeat from the last for the Colts, who have some money to spend but they may also have room to gain some comp picks at the same time. Players that could become notable CFAs include starting offensive linemen Eric Fisher and Mark Glowinski, receivers TY Hilton and Zach Pascal, and edge rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad. Having 23 total pending UFAs could also help out to the cause of filling out the comp pick ledger in the lower rounds. Potential: High

Jacksonville Jaguars

With Cam Robinson oddly tagged a second time, and Andrew Norwell ineligible to become a compensatory free agent due to shortening his contract, the Jaguars are left with hardly any other notable CFA-capable free agents other than DJ Chark coming off a season ending injury. With tons of cap space in Trevor Lawrence’s second season, a new head coach, and a franchise that has a history of not caring for comp picks to the tune of having the longest drought of receiving them, I would not expect Jacksonville to show up on the 2023 comp picks list. Potential: Very Low

Tennessee Titans

With Harold Landry extended, the Titans end up having a high quantity of UFAs, but a low quality of those who could become CFAs, with perhaps long time center Ben Jones turning 33 being the leader of that group. However, the Titans also have 24 total pending UFAs, and are also on the lower end of salary cap room for 2022, so if they hold off on free agency on those grounds they could still fetch some lower level comp picks. Potential: Moderate

Denver Broncos

The Broncos are unlikely to have any pending UFAs generate high round comp picks, particularly since Teddy Bridgewater will not be eligible for CFA status due to the Broncos agreeing to remove the final season of his contract that he signed with the Panthers. However, there are still plenty of midlevel UFAs that could generate a good quantity of comp picks for a GM in George Paton that likes having a high quantity of draft picks in general–particularly after yielding significant draft capital by acquiring Russell Wilson. Those players include Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller, Josey Jewell, Alexander Johnson, and Melvin Gordon among their 17 CFA eligible UFAs. Potential: Moderate

Kansas City Chiefs

As expected, the Chiefs franchise tagged Orlando Brown, Jr., but are plenty of other players that could generate a high quantity and quality of comp picks for Kansas City. They include Tyrann Mathieu, Charvarius Ward, Mike Hughes, and Daniel Sorenson from the defensive backfield, Jarran Reed and Derrick Nnadi on the defensive interior, and Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson at wide receiver. Melvin Ingram also cannot be discounted despite turning 33 for next season. The Chiefs have some holes on the roster they might want to fill with signing an external CFA or two, but even in that case they should be well suited to still be on the 2023 comp picks list. Potential: Very High

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders have 24 pending UFAs, but very few of them look to be of high CFA quality. Perhaps their best chance is if Marcus Mariota receives something more than a backup quarterback contract. However, this should be weighed against hiring a new head coach that didn’t particularly care for comp picks during his last tenure as such. Las Vegas is likely to continue its usual status as a franchise that also doesn’t care about comp picks. Potential: Very Low

Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams was extended, leaving 20 other pending UFAs that’s probably led by Uchenna Nwosu, with other older players like Chris Harris, Jr., Jared Cook, and Linval Joseph next up in line. There’s some room for this team to generate comp picks from that, but with one of the highest amount of available cap dollars in the league, they could also look primed to make some big expenditures in free agency. Potential: Low

Dallas Cowboys

Dalton Schultz was given the franchise tag, but there are still plenty of other pending UFAs that could be popular in the early stages of free agency. They include Michael Gallup, Leighton Vander Esch, Keanu Neal, Cedrick Wilson, Jr., Connor Williams, and Randy Gregory. Dallas prefers to keep their own at extensions at a premium, so some of these players might be retained, but since they trade that off by rarely making forays into unrestricted free agency, that naturally leads to compensatory picks–and this offseason shouldn’t be different for the Cowboys. Potential: High

New York Giants

The new front office in New York has been aggressively cutting salary in more than just an effort to get cap compliant. This would indicate that may be interested in making several top moves in free agency to churn the roster to their liking. They have a few players (Will Hernandez, Evan Engram, Jabrill Peppers) that might get good deals elsewhere, but those CFA losses could be offset by CFA signings on the Giants’ end. Potential: Low

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have the league’s fewest number of pending UFAs at nine, but within those nine are some core contributors from 2021 on defense. Steven Nelson, Anthony Harris, Derek Barnett, and Rodney McLeod all played at least 60% of the snaps last season. Pair that with only moderate cap space and three first round picks among 10 total in the draft, and this could be the beginning of a youth movement in Philadelphia that spans into 2023 with comp picks. Potential: Moderate

Washington Commanders

Brandon Scherff was effectively free from being tagged again, and this will be his best chance to get the major contract in his career. Beyond Scherff, there is not many players of note. The Commanders just made a big expenditure in acquiring Carson Wentz, so they could decide to keep their CFA signings low enough just to preserve the one high pick they could get for Scherff’s departure. Potential: Low

Chicago Bears

The Bears have a new front office, and they could elect to go in either direction when it comes to comp picks. On the one hand, they have 27 pending UFAs, and they include players like Allen Robinson, Akiem Hicks, Jakeem Grant, and James Daniels that could get very good deals elsewhere that could help them play the comp pick formula in their favor. On the other hand, their cap space is on the higher end, and having that many free agents could also indicate that they feel they have plenty of roster holes to fill with veterans. We’ll learn hints as to which path Ryan Poles prefers in the coming days. Potential: Moderate

Detroit Lions

The Lions have only 13 pending UFAs, but there are some high contributors from 2021 among them. Charles Harris started to live up to his 1st round potential, Tracy Walker was one of their top defensive backs, and Alex Anzalone always has potential if he can stay healthy. The Lions don’t show much consistently in going after comp picks, and tend to let them come to them, as they’re projected to from last offseason. We could see the same this offseason, or we could see a more active approach in free agency to add talent for Dan Campbell to work with. Potential: Moderate

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are extremely up against the cap with the looming extension of Aaron Rodgers, and placing the franchise tag on Davante Adams. Combine this with a team that has the history of obsessing over compensatory pick collection more than any other team, and good CFA candidates in De’Vondre Campbell, Robert Tonyan, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Rasul Douglas, and we should see Green Bay on the 2023 comp pick board as usual. Potential: Very High

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings will have 18 pending UFAs, and that will not include Anthony Barr, who shortened his contract via renegotiation. Beyond him, however, includes plenty of other possible CFA-worthy UFAs like Patrick Peterson, Xavier Woods, and Sheldon Richardson. The Vikings also have some work to do with their salary cap, so even despite a new front office that might want to shape the roster to their desires, Minnesota might still end up with comp picks even if they’re in the lower rounds. Potential: Moderate

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have a high number of pending UFAs at 23, but not much more than wishful promise for some of the their most notable names hitting the market. Russell Gage probably leads that list with 770 receiving yards from last season. Cordarrelle Patterson could always continue to get attention even in his 30s. Perhaps a team could take a flier on Hayden Hurst to try to unlock any perceived first round talent. Foyesade Oluokun could get a good deal after playing almost all the snaps at linebacker. Atlanta perhaps needs to hold off on signing CFAs from other teams if they want comp picks. Potential: Low

Carolina Panthers

Haason Reddick will be a leading edge rusher to watch on the market that also leads Carolina’s possible CFA-worthy free agents. Jermaine Carter and Donte Jackson were two other high snap contributors on defense that will hit the market. Matt Paradis could see a third contract, and DaQuan Jones could still be a reliable player even in his 30s. Weighing against the Panthers’ compensatory pick potential are recent restructures of players like Taylor Moton and Shaq Thompson that could indicate a willingness to be active in free agency. Potential: Moderate

New Orleans Saints

Once again, the Saints are up against it on the salary cap, and once again that could mean that they have no choice but to earn compensatory picks, despite having perhaps the lowest reputation for caring about them. Marcus Williams will not be tagged again and will be a leader in getting a top tier safety deal. Terron Armstead will be attractive at a high priority position at left tackle. Kwon Alexander and PJ Williams could be good midtier options for other teams. And finally, Jameis Winston is always liable to finally break through with a better veteran contract that even at the top of the backup tier could be comp pick worthy. Potential: Very High

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After running back the roster with Tom Brady last offseason, much of the roster is set to run off Tampa Bay along with Brady. Even with Chris Godwin being franchise tagged again, there is Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa, Carlton Davis, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jordan Whitehead, William Gholston, OJ Howard, and Ronald Jones–all hitting unrestricted free agency. The quality and quantity of the Bucs’ 2023 comp picks should be through the roof. Teddy Bridgewater in particular could be an attractive QB option for Tampa Bay, since as described above in the Broncos’ section, signing him would not cancel out a comp pick in the formula. Potential: Very High

Arizona Cardinals

Chandler Jones appears to still have a big market even at age 32 for next season. On the other age end, Christian Kirk is quite young for a UFA at 26 that could get a good deal for a team looking to bolster wide receiver depth. James Conner and Chase Edmonds are a pair of running backs that could similarly be depth bolstering. The Cardinals might not get many comp picks or high comp picks, but if they are restrained with CFA signings could still end up on the list for 2023. Potential: Moderate

Los Angeles Rams

Much like last offseason, the Rams’ pending UFAs are low in quantity (13) but high in quality (Von Miller (albeit capped at the 5th round due to the 10+ accrued seasons rule), Darious Williams, Brian Allen, Austin Corbett, and perhaps Sony Michel). It’s a huge shame in so many ways that Odell Beckham, Jr. tore his ACL in the Super Bowl–for purposes of comp picks, it seems highly unlikely he will sign a contract anywhere anytime soon. Last offseason, the Rams played the comp pick game masterfully to restock their allegedly depleted draft capital to eight total picks by maxing out with four comp picks. Don’t be surprised if they do the same again. Potential: High

San Francisco 49ers

Even while turning 30, Laken Tomlinson still could have a good third contract heading his way. The same could be true for Jaquiski Tartt. On the younger end, DJ Jones appears set to strike it rich on the market if he leaves San Francisco. This is another team that might not see the top tier of compensatory picks for 2023, but could still bolster their draft capital that year nonetheless. Potential: Moderate

Seattle Seahawks

It’s a new era in Seattle with Russell Wilson sent to Denver and Bobby Wagner released. Who knows what the future will hold with the Seahawks? They have tons of cap space, so they could go heavy in free agency to fill some needs, and ignore comp picks this time around. Or, they could double down on the hoard of picks they got from the Broncos, and let players like Duane Brown, Quandre Diggs, DJ Reed, Rasheem Green, Rashaad Penny, and Will Dissly follow Wilson and Wagner in departure. There’s an argument to be had for either direction in the current uncertainty of these crossroads. Potential: Moderate