Nick Korte


Recent Posts by Nick

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.

* * * *

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.

2017 NFL Roster Textures

Jason gave an excellent breakdown of NFL rosters last night as we prepare for the beginning of the 2017 NFL season. In turn, as a complement I thought I’d give a quick overview of OTC’s texture page, and provide a quick list of 32 observations, one for each team. You are encouraged to make your own observations by directly viewing the texture page.

As always, texture breaks down NFL contracts into five categories, determined by 2017 cap number.  As a brief review, those categories are as follows:

  • Elite: veteran contracts whose cap hits are in the top 32 leaguewide (top 1 per team; $15.075 million or higher for 2017).
  • High: veteran contracts whose cap hits are in the top 33-160 leaguewide, (top 2-5 per team; $7.5-$15 million for 2017).
  • Middle: veteran contracts whose cap hits are in the top 161-320 leaguewide, (top 6-10 per team; $4.06-$7.5 million for 2017).
  • Low: veteran contracts whose cap hits are  below the top 320 leaguewide, ($4 million or less for 2017).
  • Rookie: all contracts signed by players as rookies or by players with three or fewer accrued seasons.

Dead money and cap space are also visualized.  Keep these categories in mind as you read through the observations for each team. (more…)

Introducing The Cap Dollars By College Page

Today is the first Saturday of the 2017 college football season, and as a honor to this, I decided to put together a fairly simple page that breaks down cap spending by college. For those of you that have a rooting interest in a college team, you may find it interesting to see how well your school’s best football alumni are doing on NFL financial grounds.

The Cap Dollars By College page contains four views: by all colleges overall, breakdowns by team, and breakdowns by conference. Although there may be some further changes as final 53-player rosters are cut down today, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the current standings as the 2017 NFL regular season approaches.  If there are significant changes, I’ll update these results accordingly.

Top 25 Overall Colleges By Cap Dollars

Rk.College#Cap Dollars
1Georgia43$150,685,656
2USC49$148,138,654
3Alabama52$138,375,869
4LSU59$131,395,194
5California36$130,977,279
6Miami49$124,293,092
7Ohio State48$112,657,212
8Oklahoma36$111,096,134
9Florida53$107,587,634
10Texas A&M37$98,918,954
11Stanford34$97,016,084
12Wisconsin35$95,419,878
13Florida State48$91,835,919
14Michigan State31$85,196,782
15Tennessee35$81,072,442
16South Carolina28$80,934,113
17Clemson42$78,997,978
18Oregon35$74,723,459
19Texas33$74,664,224
20Iowa29$72,778,574
21Utah36$70,564,002
22Penn State33$66,354,760
23Nebraska31$65,754,079
24Mississippi31$64,104,808
25Notre Dame35$63,965,369

You might think that Matt Stafford’s recent extension pushed Georgia to the top, but remember that his 2017 cap number was unchanged, still at $16.5 million. Stafford, in fact, doesn’t have the highest cap number among Bulldogs–that goes to Justin Houston at $22.1 million. Cordy Glenn, AJ Green, Geno Atkins, and Thomas Davis are the other Bulldogs with eight figure cap numbers.

Miami is a bit of a surprise to see at #6, as all of the players from the glory days around the turn of the millennium are now out of the league with Vince Wilfork’s recent retirement. But Brandon Linder’s recent extension gives the Hurricanes five alumni with eight figure cap numbers. The other four are a pair of defensive linemen in Olivier Vernon and Calais Campbell, and a pair of tight ends in Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham.

Some schools, like Ohio State and Florida State, have relatively even distribution among their highly-paid alumni. Other schools are top heavy with one or two alumni boosting them to the Top 25. Nebraska and Ole Miss are two excellent examples barely making the Top 25 due to the massive cap hits from Ndamukong Suh ($19.1 million) and Eli Manning ($19.7 million). Some of these schools may be on the verge of falling down the list quickly in the future. For example, Utah’s top two alumni are Alex Smith ($16.9 million) and Sean Smith ($9.5 million), but many feel that 2017 may be the last year both of them can get paid at that level. Losing $26.4 million in cap dollars would send the Utes tumbling down the charts if that does happen.

Each NFL Team’s College With The Highest Cap Spending

TeamCollegeCap Dollars
BengalsGeorgia$33,059,375
CardinalsUSC$25,205,000
RavensDelaware$25,204,118
TexansClemson$24,960,254
RedskinsMichigan State$24,563,323
FalconsBoston College$24,365,000
ChiefsGeorgia$24,243,109
GiantsMississippi$23,398,826
PackersCalifornia$22,820,298
SteelersFlorida$21,991,166
BroncosKansas$21,866,666
PatriotsMichigan$21,468,750
CowboysOklahoma State$21,465,000
BrownsWisconsin$21,063,489
ColtsStanford$20,852,921
JaguarsMiami$20,852,921
PanthersAuburn$20,822,563
DolphinsTexas A&M$20,300,000
RamsLSU$20,166,666
SeahawksWisconsin$20,030,000
ChargersNorth Carolina State$20,000,000
BuccaneersCalifornia$19,375,000
JetsTemple$19,008,333
SaintsPurdue$19,000,000
LionsGeorgia$18,837,500
BearsNorth Carolina State$18,100,000
VikingsOklahoma$18,000,000
BillsAlabama$16,574,804
TitansUSC$16,555,207
RaidersFresno State$15,731,691
49ersPenn State$13,504,000
EaglesCincinnati$10,200,000

This list contains more variety than the Top 25 overall list does, and most of the variety comes from veteran quarterbacks dominating their team’s cap.  Teams where this sticks out like a sore thumb are the Ravens (Joe Flacco of Delaware), Redskins (Kirk Cousins of Michigan State on his second franchise tag), and Saints (Drew Brees of Purdue).

On the other end, a few teams without a highly paid quarterback also show some oddities. Kansas, a team that’s regularly a bottom feeder in the Big 12, gets the top billing for the Broncos due to the presence of Pro Bowl cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Jr. Temple also shows up for the Jets thanks to Muhammad Wilkerson’s recent extension.

As for the overall top ranked Georgia, they make the list several times both with a high paid quarrterback (Stafford on the Lions), and multiple non-quarterbacks (Green and Atkins on the Bengals).

Division I-A Conference Rankings

ConferenceCap DollarsTop CollegeBottom College
SEC$1,105,414,831GeorgiaVanderbilt
Big Ten$776,730,639Ohio StateIndiana
Pac-12$763,388,132USCWashington State
ACC$726,476,315MiamiWake Forest
Big 12$447,768,836OklahomaBaylor
The American$287,818,399Central FloridaNavy
Mountain West$185,957,269Boise StateAir Force
Mid-American$170,925,631Central MichiganBowling Green
Conference USA$139,219,431Southern MissCharlotte
Sun Belt$95,036,626Coastal CarolinaLouisiana-Monroe
Independent$92,642,834Notre DameArmy

The SEC has long bragged about being the best conference in college football, and when it comes to cap spending on its alumni in the NFL, their bragging is justified. The SEC is the only conference in the NFL that breaks the $1 billion mark in cap spending.

The split between the Power 5 and Group of 5/independent schools also shows up. Boise State is the highest ranked Group of 5 school, but overall they only come in at #37. Within conferences, you can also see how blue bloods are regularly the top team in the conference, while service academies and regular bottom feeders show up on the bottom.

Finally, as of today every Division I-A school has at least one player on an NFL roster. We’ll have to see if that holds up by 4 PM Eastern time today.

Why The Patriots Would Use The May 9 Tender On LeGarrette Blount For Compensatory Pick Purposes

Jason has filled you on the news that the Patriots have placed a May 9 tender on LeGarrette Blount, and what that means.  As he points out, one aspect of doing so is to keep the Patriots’ option open for adding Blount to their compensatory free agents (CFAs) lost.  This reason was also cited by Jeff Howe, who first reported on the news of the Blount’s tender.  Here’s a look at what why the Patriots would do this, and how other teams should respond.

For the Patriots, it’s less about gaining a new compensatory pick and more about insuring against their other two.

Here is the Patriots’ current cancellation chart for 2018 compensatory picks:

New England Patriots
CFAs Lost: 5CFAs Gained: 3
NameRd.APYRankNameRd.APYRank
Logan Ryan3$10,000,00078Stephon Gilmore3$13,000,00043
Jabaal Sheard4$8,500,000122
Martellus Bennett5$6,750,000202
Barkevious Mingo7$2,500,000580Lawrence Guy6$3,350,000442
Chris Long7$2,250,000611Rex Burkhead6$3,150,000463

Ryan and Gilmore, both 3rd round values, obviously cancel each other out.  CFAs gained are never allowed to cancel out higher round CFAs lost unless there is no one left to cancel out. So Guy and Burkhead, both 6th rounders, cancel out Mingo and Long, both 7th rounders.  However, should there be a third 7th rounder (Blount), Guy and Burkhead would cancel out the highest valued 7th rounders first.  That last aspect is critical to understanding the minimal gains for the Patriots.

If Blount signs elsewhere for less than $2.25 million APY (i.e., less than Long), the 7th round pick that opens up is for Blount, at whatever APY he gets.  The problem though is that an APY less than $2.25 million is unlikely to make the 32-pick limit.  Looking at the current list, the last pick is going to the Bengals for Margus Hunt at $2.05 million APY. Also remember that running backs generally do not get as many snaps as other players, so Blount may need an even higher salary to account for that.  If Blount were able to get more than $2.25 million APY, he would be canceled out and the 7th round comp pick opened out would be for Long.  But again, on the current list Long would still be the very last pick.

So are the Patriots trying to make a play for the Mr. Irrelevant pick?  If they are thinking about comp picks, what’s more likely on their mind is the worry that Mingo or Long may not make their new teams’ rosters, and in the case of the 32 year old Long, retirement can’t be ruled out either.  If one of Mingo or Long is removed from the chart, the Patriots would lose their 5th round comp pick for Bennett. If both are removed, the Patriots would be completely shut out of comp picks.

As Jason explained, $1.1 million is probably a reasonable salary for someone like Blount at this point in his career.  Extending the tender is a low-cost move that insures against their better comp picks. And from a pure football standpoint, retaining Blount at that salary deepens their depth chart at running back with a player familiar with the system.

The risks for some other teams exist, but can be dealt with.

Half of the league has no reason to hold off on signing Blount since they’re not projected to get comp picks anyway.  Of course, that was true both before and after the May 9 tender, so if any of those teams wanted Blount they could have already had him.

Of the 15 teams with comp picks on the line, the Giants and Ravens are two teams that reports have linked him to.  The Giants hypothetically have some comp pick risk in signing Blount but in looking at their cancellation chart the risk is low:

New York Giants
CFAs Lost: 4CFAs Gained: 1
NameRd.APYRankNameRd.APYRank
Johnathan Hankins4$9,000,000107
Robbie Gould7$2,000,000655Rhett Ellison6$4,475,000347
Marshall Newhouse7$1,550,000758
Coty Sensabaugh7$1,300,000821
Non-Qualifying UFAs LostNon-Qualifying UFAs Gained
Shaun Draughn$975,000968
Geno Smith$975,000969
Valentino Blake$855,0001040

It is very important to keep in mind that the two 7th rounders for Newhouse and Sensabaugh are not projected to make the 32-pick limit; they are 36th and 37th in line.  So it’s only their 4th for Hankins that they have to worry about. Regarding the three players they signed that aren’t currently projected to qualify as CFAs, the Giants could always cut them (or Blount) if they feel their contribution isn’t worth giving up a 4th round pick. (And in the case of Draughn, he might be cut as a direct result of signing Blount, as they also drafted Wayne Gallman.)

The Giants could fear that Newhouse and/or Sensabaugh could be cut, and as I noted yesterday in the case of the latter the Steelers could have a large comp pick incentive of their own, as doing so would pick up a 5th rounder for Markus Wheaton.  But even if that happened, again the Giants could cut Blount or any of the bubble CFAs that could interfere later on in the season.

The bottom line as I see it is if the Giants think Blount is worth bringing in on football merits, any risk that they take on against their 4th rounder for Hankins can be mitigated in multiple ways throughout the regular season.

The Ravens’ chart is more straightforward:

Baltimore Ravens
CFAs Lost: 5CFAs Gained: 3
NameRd.APYRankNameRd.APYRank
Ricky Wagner3$9,500,00091
Kyle Juszczyk6$5,250,000295Tony Jefferson4$8,500,000125
Lawrence Guy6$3,350,000442Brandon Carr5$5,750,000265
Kamar Aiken7$2,600,000559Danny Woodhead7$2,933,333503
Vladimir Ducasse7$1,166,667868

As of now, the Ravens could afford to sign Blount and only have him cancel out Ducasse, who is also projected to miss the 32-pick limit. However, as with the Steelers and Sensabaugh, the Bills could have an incentive to cut Ducasse if they want to make an effort to recoup a 3rd round comp pick for Stephon Gilmore.  If that happened after signing Blount, the Ravens would lose their 3rd rounder for Ricky Wagner.  Ozzie Newsome, of course, pays keen attention to compensatory picks, so that may not be a risk he’s willing to take.  As with the Giants, should the Bills cut Ducasse the Ravens could also do the same with Blount to reopen the pick for Wagner.

Could a tag-and-trade be an option?

If the Giants or Ravens are interested in Blount but are also very worried about their comp picks, I wonder if they could mitigate that concern by trading for Blount for minimal compensation after he signs his tender.  It’s a move that would be quite typical of Bill Belichick always thinking one step ahead. I don’t know if Blount would qualify as a CFA in that scenario, and I am not aware of any comp pick situation in which a team re-signed one of their own UFAs only to trade him later.  If the Patriots did pose that option to Blount and the Giants or Ravens, a call into the NFL Management Council would be prudent just to see what the rules of the formula say about that.

2018 Compensatory Draft Picks Update (5/9/2017)

With the league offices closing for today, the second Tuesday after the 2017 NFL Draft, it also closes out the addition of compensatory free agents (CFAs) into the formula for the 2018 NFL Draft.  With only CFA subtractions now possible due to cuts or too low of a salary, it’s time to take a look at the list that’s emerged. (more…)

2018 Compensatory Picks Primer

Now that the league’s “legal tampering” period is open (and with it may come initial news of free agent contracts to be signed), it’s time to prepare followers of the compensatory pick system of what to expect for 2018.  Below the fold you can find a list of aspects to watch out for as free agency begins on Thursday, March 9 at 4 PM ET. (more…)

Introducing New Features At Over The Cap

With free agency only a few days away, OTC is preparing for the event by providing readers with new and updated content to help assist in furthering knowledge toward how NFL contracts and the salary cap operate.  Hop behind the fold to learn more. (more…)