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The Mystery On The 3rd/4th Round Compensatory Pick Cutoff Has Been Solved

When I published my annual compensatory picks update after the draft on Monday, I still expressed some doubt about how the NFL Management Council calculated the cutoff between the 3rd and 4th round for 2024, even after Bills GM Brandon Beane provided some useful hints in explaining why the his team and the 49ers did not get the 3rd rounders they (and I) expected.

Thankfully, that doubt is now gone. Per a source that OTC considers reliable, we were informed that the NFLMC calculates contracts that were restructured as entirely new contracts. These contracts are calculated as beginning on the season of the restructure, and include all cap dollars from that season onward–including cap dollars in void seasons. The nature of these calculations make the APY of these restructured contracts much larger than they are in actual cash payment.

To illustrate, let’s use the player that I believe Beane was referring to on the 49ers at the time, Arik Armstead. He originally signed a five year, $85 million extension, for a real APY of $17 million. That contract had a $17.5 million signing bonus prorated over all five seasons at $3.5 million each. However, the 49ers then did maximum restructures on Armstead’s 2022 and 2023 bases salaries, adding more void years in the process. A simple view of the contract before and after the restructures as of 2023 looked like this:


YearNon-Prorated SalaryProrated BonusesCap Number


YearNon-Prorated SalaryProrated BonusesCap Number

What the NFLMC did for compensatory formula purposes was to take the contract on the right, but only consider the cap numbers for all seasons during and after the restructure, including void years–but for contract length, it ignored void years. What was counted has been highlighted in green and marked with asterisks. After taking out some of the simplicity I have illustrated here, Armstead’s compensatory APY came out to be just a shade over $28 million. (I am guessing that Beane slightly misspoke when he said $26 million).

Once this adjustment was made to OTC’s compensatory formula, it’s amazing how it put everything in proper place, with a proper 3rd/4th round cutoff consisting of the top 5% of the league, around the top 94 players:

As we can see, the contracts of Mike McGlinchey (San Francisco) and Tremaine Edmunds (Buffalo) fell just below the cutoff, as Beane said. We also see Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract above it, but the 49ers did not get a 3rd round comp pick for his departure because they also signed Javon Hargrave, also above the cutoff. This also explains the NFLMC’s mistake in not initially awarding the Bengals a 3rd round comp pick. As it admitted, it omitted Jessie Bates’s Pro Bowl honors, and subtracting those 20 points would have put his contract below the cutoff, and cancelled out by the 4th round signing of Orlando Brown, Jr. It also explains why the 3rd round comp pick for Cincinnati came above the same for Philadelphia, from the departure of Hargrave to the Bay Area.

Although we now have the answer, I do still agree with Beane’s assessment that the Bills and 49ers got a “raw deal” due to counting “numbers that are not really numbers”. Returning to the Armstead example, at no point was he actually getting paid $28 million per season. His maximum compensation was always going to be $85 million over five seasons, thus his APY should have always been judged to be $17 million. I would advise the NFLMC to not calculate restructured contracts in the manner that they did.

With this solved, this change has also been placed in the 2025 compensatory picks projection. Currently, it has not resulted in any changes in that projection from Monday. However, Dolphins fans and observers should show a little bit of caution for the projection of Robert Hunt’s contract, as it is just barely over the 3rd/4th round cutoff in the compensatory formula. But the program is currently using a snap count average over the past four seasons for Hunt that should end up higher if he plays almost all the snaps for the Panthers, as starting offensive linemen tend to do. And also, although at this point it will not matter, I am more convinced that Jonathan Greenard’s contract will likely be valued in the 4th round and not the 3rd– and if so, it would mean that his contract would have not cancelled out Danielle Hunter’s 3rd round valued contract had the Vikings had a net loss of compensatory free agents of greater than 2–instead of the 1 they have now, resulting in only one comp pick for Kirk Cousins going to Atlanta.

2024 Projected UDFA Class Sizes

With only a few days before the 2024 NFL Draft, it’s that time again to take a look at how many undrafted free agents (UDFAs) each team might sign.

TeamCurrent RosterDraft PicksProjected UDFAs

As always, the formula used to calculate these projections is simple: subtract from the maximum roster size (90) the number of players currently on the roster, and the number of draft picks each team currently has.

This season, the Chargers lead the way with an estimate of 23 UDFAs, largely due to having the fewest players under contract right now at 58. This is not too surprising given the major change at general manager and head coach with Joe Hortiz and Jim Harbaugh, as the team is likely to continue to change significantly with their arrival. Perhaps a little more surprising is the other team with a Harbaugh as the head coach in the Ravens, who unlike the Chargers have a coaching staff and front office that is highly tenured. A wide array of teams are bunched together afterward, with the Bears the most notable due to only having 4 draft picks right now–albeit two of them being the 1st and 9th overall picks.

On the other end, as it stands right now the Cardinals would have room for only one UDFA, with the 49ers and Eagles next up with only three spots for UDFAs. Something that most of the teams on the lower end have in common, however, is possessing a high number of draft picks. This is certainly the case with the Cardinals, who have garnered 11 of them right now, tied for most in the league. They are also second only to, oddly enough, the team with the fewest draft picks in the Bears, in draft pick value according to the Fitzgerald-Spielberger system.

Because draft day trades and other transactions will happen, these numbers will not be the final result. They may, however, give some hints as to what teams could do during and immediately after the draft. Teams with a high numbered UDFA potential could lower this number by acquiring more picks in this draft, either by trading down or trading away future picks. Teams with a low numbered UDFA potential could raise this number by trading up in this draft, or defer some picks into future drafts via trades, to lower the number of picks they make now. Teams on this low end are also more liable to cut some veterans currently on the roster.

Analyzing Contracts Cut In 2024

Now that the fifth day of the new league year has passed, when many contract triggers have been decided, this is a good time to take a look at what veteran contracts were terminated in preparation for and during the beginning of free agency–and see what trends can be identified.

The list

Here are all the players cut that resulted in salary due in 2024 that was shed by their former teams:

#NamePos.Former Team2024 Cash Saved
Jimmy GaroppoloQBRaiders$24,250,000
87David BakhtiariTPackers$21,500,000
13Mike WilliamsWRChargers$20,000,000
48Shaquil BarrettEDGEBuccaneers$17,000,000
Jamal AdamsSSeahawks$16,500,000
D.J. HumphriesTCardinals$16,000,000
7Emmanuel OgbahEDGEDolphins$15,800,000
66Justin SimmonsSBroncos$14,500,000
J.C. JacksonCBPatriots$14,375,000
35Eddie JacksonSBears$14,150,000
82Kevin ByardSEagles$14,100,000
99Laken TomlinsonGJets$13,000,000
76Arik ArmsteadIDL49ers$12,860,000
Charles Leno Jr.TCommanders$12,000,000
19Marquez Valdes-ScantlingWRChiefs$12,000,000
Darious WilliamsCBJaguars$12,000,000
26Aaron JonesRBPackers$12,000,000
12Hunter RenfrowWRRaiders$11,882,000
72Jerome BakerLBDolphins$11,133,000
77Quandre DiggsSSeahawks$11,000,000
49De’Vondre CampbellLBPackers$10,750,000
43Tre’Davious WhiteCBBills$10,400,000
90Cody WhitehairGBears$10,250,000
22Allen RobinsonWRSteelers$10,000,000
Michael GallupWRCowboys$9,500,000
83Rayshawn JenkinsSJaguars$9,000,000
Chukwuma OkoraforTSteelers$8,750,000
79Mitch MorseCBills$8,500,000
33Tracy WalkerSLions$8,000,000
25Folorunso FatukasiIDLJaguars$8,000,000
23C.J. UzomahTEJets$8,000,000
46Marcus MayeSSaints$7,500,000
29Avonte MaddoxCBEagles$7,500,000
45Brian AllenCRams$7,000,000
47Will DisslyTESeahawks$7,000,000
Patrick PetersonCBSteelers$6,850,000
60Logan ThomasTECommanders$6,565,000
57Jonnu SmithTEFalcons$6,500,000
91Eric KendricksLBChargers$6,500,000
Andre DillardTTitans$6,500,000
Mitchell TrubiskyQBSteelers$6,000,000
Bradley BozemanCPanthers$6,000,000
20Bryan MoneIDLSeahawks$5,900,000
71Mark GlowinskiGGiants$5,700,000
86Jordan PoyerSBills$5,500,000
4Tyus BowserEDGERavens$5,500,000
17Nyheim HinesRBBills$5,000,000
54Mason ColeCSteelers$4,750,000
10Deonte HartyWRBills$4,110,000
21Dean LowryIDLVikings$4,000,000
Isaiah OliverCB49ers$3,500,000
Alexander MattisonRBVikings$3,350,000
Nick ScottSBengals$3,300,000
Keion CrossenCBDolphins$3,245,000
Adrian PhillipsSPatriots$3,000,000
Lawrence GuyIDLPatriots$3,000,000
Vonn BellSPanthers$3,000,000
Siran NealCBBills$2,880,000
Nick BelloreLBSeahawks$2,850,000
Chris ManhertzTEBroncos$2,650,000
Leighton Vander EschLBCowboys$2,500,000
Brian HoyerQBRaiders$2,332,500
Jerry TilleryIDLRaiders$2,300,000
Hayden HurstTEPanthers$2,250,000
Keanu NealSSteelers$2,250,000
Chris BoardLBPatriots$1,960,000
DeVante ParkerWRPatriots$1,800,000
Nick GatesCCommanders$1,800,000

The number on the left column is the rank that player had on OTC’s 2024 top 100 possible cut candidates. Overall, that experiment went well: of the 50 players cut where they were due at least $4 million in salary for 2024 (the lower bound on the list), 38 of them were on the top 100 list, making up 76% of those cuts. In addition, six other players (Joey Bosa, Tim Patrick, John Cominsky, Donte Jackson, Tyler Lockett, and Shaq Thompson) also suffered negative contract fate by taking pay cuts in order to stay on their teams. That means the list identified 44 players that teams deemed were slated to be paid more in 2024 than they were willing to pay. With a few more tweaks, I hope to work further on exploring contract fate more, and attempting to increase the number of players that are accurate identified as possible cut candidates.

2024 Cash Saved By Team and Position

Team2024 Cash Saved
Position2024 Cash SavedProportion To
2023 Cash Spent

The team column to the left mostly speaks for itself as to which teams felt they had more 2024 salary that they needed to shed. Collectively, 29 teams shed $559,542,500 in 2024 salary–yes, that’s over half a billion dollars.

But it’s the position breakdown that fascinates me much more–particularly the very high number at safety. I can’t recall the last time that one position suffered this many high level cuts (13) at such a high number and high proportion to last season’s spending. This may have caused a chain reaction in which we saw some safeties unexpectedly cut, as more teams were market correcting.

Wide receiver and cornerback also suffered high amounts that were cut. This may suggest the “speed” positions at wide receiver and at defensive back saw many players that teams felt lost a step in speed and otherwise.

On the other hand, it’s no surprise that quarterback saw the least proportion of 2024 cash shed, with edge rushers and interior defensive linemen right behind as high valued positions. It was a bit surprising to see the running back amounts to be quite low–perhaps this comes a season or so after market corrections happened there that may be impacting safety right now. It will be good to discover in the future what trends end up changing.

2025 Compensatory Picks Potential

The 2024 league year in the NFL officially starts on Wednesday, March 13. The two day negotiating period of free agency commences on Monday, March 11, 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 2025 NFL Draft. Now that we know which players will be effectively taken out of free agency via tags, thus it’s time to take a look at what comp pick potential teams might be looking at.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have a high quantity of pending UFAs at 21, and while none stand out, there are several that could get CFA eligible contracts elsewhere. This group includes AJ Epenesa, Leonard Floyd, Gabe Davis, Tyrel Dodson, Tim Settle, and Micah Hyde. Combine this with a roster that’s all in on the current players that might not have much room to sign too many new players, and that could be a recipe for multiple lower round comp picks. Potential: Moderate

Miami Dolphins

Miami’s pending UFA count is very high at 26, and leading that list by far is Christian Wilkins, who surprisingly did not receive a franchise tag by the Dolphins. Protecting a high comp pick for his departure should be the Dolphins’ priority, and with several UFAs that could go to other teams (Connor Williams, Robert Hunt, Andrew Van Ginkel, Raekwon Davis, Brandon Jones, DeShon Elliott), the Dolphins could make some low level CFA signings of their own if they leave for CFA worthy contracts, while protecting their high pick from Wilkins departing. Potential: Moderate

New England Patriots

Placing the transition tag on Kyle Dugger took him out of CFA eligibility unless the Patriots were to rescind the tag before he signs it. That leaves Mike Onwenu as the new leading candidate, with other players like Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, Kendrick Bourne, Josh Uche or Myles Bryant looking for new contracts. But with a new head coach for the first time in a long time, and plenty of money to spend, will we see a regime that’s different from the very comp pick friendly one of the past? Potential: Low

New York Jets

The biggest UFA question for the Jets will be how they handle Bryce Huff’s expiring contract after coming offer a ten sack season. If he’s retained, the list of pending UFAs gets thin, but there are a few players like Jordan Whitehead, Connor McGovern, or Mekhi Becton who could get CFA worthy deals that could protect a possible comp pick should Huff leave if they keep their own CFA signings to a minimum. Potential: Low

Baltimore Ravens

Another season, another slate of high quality and quantity of potential CFAs for the Ravens. And this is even after they placed the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike. Patrick Queen, Geno Stone, Jadeveon Clowney (albeit capped at 5th rounder due to accruing 10 seasons), Gus Edwards, Devin Duvernay, John Simpson, Rock Ya-Sin, and even older players like Ronald Darby, Kyle Van Noy, and Odell Beckham Jr. could be at play. With a deep roster as is even without these players, the Ravens as usual are sitting pretty to do what they do here. Potential: Very High

Cincinnati Bengals

With Tee Higgins tagged, the Bengals could prioritize Jonah Williams as a CFA to account for should he leave, as tackles are always in high demand. DJ Reader’s quad injury could hamper his next free agency journey after a strong season beforehand. Tyler Boyd, Chidobe Awuzie, and Drew Sample could also pad CFA departures for Williams should the Bengals want to sign CFAs of their own. Potential: Moderate

Cleveland Browns

The Browns have a high quantity of CFA eligible pending UFAs at 23, but none of them figure to stand out as notable. Should Cleveland decide to withhold from free agency, perhaps they could see a low round comp pick or two come their way, but this might be a good season for them to not care too much about it. Potential: Low

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers also do not have any notable pending UFAs, and their total number is on the low end at just 13. Unless they feel this is a season to entirely sit out of free agency, there’s not likely much of a reason to prioritize comp picks this time around. Potential: Very Low

Houston Texans

The Texans have been renowned in recent years for signing many low level veterans to one year contracts, and that bears out this offseason with a very high 28 pending UFAs hitting the market. Having that many of them raises the odds of generating some CFA worthy contracts, but none of them are likely to be in the high rounds, with Jonathan Greenard possibly being the highest after the team extended Dalton Schultz. With CJ Stroud on a rookie contract and plenty of money to spend, their best avenue to take the next step may be to hit free agency heavy. Potential: Low

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have a low quantity of pending UFAs at 14, but there could be some quality within there–Kenny Moore and Julian Blackmon are a pair of defensive backs that could see CFA worthy deals even in a glut of DB talent. Zack Moss also hits the market alongside an abundance of RBs. And don’t count out Gardner Minshew for getting a decent CFA contract even as a backup due to a strong season coming in relief for Anthony Richardson. There’s not a lot to work with, but some if the Colts wish to eschew free agency. Potential: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars

Josh Allen received an expected franchise tag, which leaves the door open for Calvin Ridley to hit unrestricted free agency. While there’s a few other pending UFAs that could get CFA worthy deals, such as Ezra Cleveland or Dawuane Smoot, with only 13 pending UFAs total, the Jaguars would have to go lean on CFA signings of their own if they want to protect a potential high comp pick should Ridley leave. Potential: Low

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are in a similar place to the Texans in that they have a high quantity of pending UFAs (23), but not much quality within them. They also have a quarterback on his second season poised to be the starter in Will Levis that the team may wish to build around in free agency righter than working on comp picks for two drafts down the road. Potential: Low

Denver Broncos

Lloyd Cushenberry looks to be the leading center in unrestricted free agency if the Broncos let him get there. Josey Jewell has been a useful and underrated linebacker that could see attention elsewhere if he’s not retained. Beyond that, there’s not a lot for Denver to work with here, but after a heavy foray into free agency last offseason, indications may be that they won’t repeat that in 2024, which could generate comp picks if they don’t retain their key UFAs. Potential: Moderate

Kansas City Chiefs

Much has been said about Chris Jones’s contribution to the Chiefs’ defense, but it was sensible for Kansas City to instead use the franchise tag on the younger L’Jarius Sneed. That could leave a path for Jones to sign a large contract elsewhere, and establish a high comp pick going the Chiefs’ way. Beyond Jones, Willie Gay, Drue Tranquill, Derrick Nnadi, Donovan Smith, Tershawn Warton, and even punter Tommy Townsend could garner CFA worthy contracts. Unless the Chiefs want to go shopping in the CFA market themselves–which they are not averse to doing–they have plenty of paths for comp pick generation. Potential: High

Las Vegas Raiders

Josh Jacobs will not be franchise tagged a second time, and that will set him up to be the Raiders’ leading CFA candidate. But with only 17 total pending UFAs, and the only notable ones being a handful of marginal offensive linemen like Andre James, Jermaine Eleumenor, and Greg Van Roten, there’s likely not much for the Raiders to work for in comp picks as they try to build a stronger roster. Potential: Very Low

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are poised for much change with a new head coach and general manager that may have different visions from the previous regime. That might cause a fair number of CFA worthy UFAs to depart: Austin Ekeler, Kenneth Murray, Alohi Gilman, Michael Davis among them. The question will be whether any of their departures are offset by arrivals of CFAs to turn over the roster. Potential: Low

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys tend to prioritize retaining their own over venturing too far in unrestricted free agency. This approach tends to fetch them comp picks for players they were unable to come to agreement on extensions with. This season, this includes Tony Pollard (who was not given another franchise tag), stalwart Tyron Smith (who will also be capped at a 5th round for being a 10+ accrued season veteran), and Tyler Biadasz (another leading UFA at center). Add on a few other peripheral players like Jourdan Lewis or Jayron Kearse, and the usual path to comp picks for Dallas is there despite having only 16 total pending UFAs. Potential: Moderate

New York Giants

Saquon Barkley will not receive another franchise tag, and he should headline a deep running back market should he not stay in New York. Also not getting tagged is Xavier McKinney, who could also headline a deep safety market. Padding them will be a total of 24 pending UFAs that could give the Giants some leeway to shop for CFAs if enough of their own sign CFA eligible contracts to pad for comp picks should Barkley and McKinney leave. Potential: Moderate

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles overflowed the comp pick chart last season with nine CFAs that departed, and signed none. This time, while they have 20 pending UFAs, they are either older (Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham) or lower profile (D’Andre Swift, Nicholas Morrow). The Eagles have mostly committed to their roster for the long term with a series of contract structures designed to be all in, and even if the comp picks they receive aren’t high, they could still be numerous. Potential: Moderate

Washington Commanders

With a new head coach and new general manager, change could be on the way in DC, and with plenty of money to burn, that could also indicate an array of CFA signings at hand. With Kamren Curl perhaps the most prominent pending UFA for the Commanders in an abundant safety market, and not much else beyong him, this could be a good season for the Commanders to overload on veterans, particularly if they take a rookie quarterback 2nd overall. Potential: Very Low

Chicago Bears

The Bears appear poised to reset the rookie quarterback clock thanks to being gifted the 1st overall pick from the Panthers, which can give them room to be aggressive in free agency to continue to improve the roster. And with only 14 pending UFAs, the best of which might be Darnell Mooney or Equanimeous St. Brown, it’s unlikely that they’ll need to run over comp picks to do so. Potential: Very Low

Detroit Lions

Jonah Jackson and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Jr. are a couple of Lions that could get decent CFA contracts elsewhere. Charles Harris, Romeo Okwara, and Donovan Peoples-Jones could also attract CFA contracts even if they’re on the 7th round end. But their list of CFA eligible contract candidates got pared down due to Teddy Bridgewater retiring, Halapoulivaati Vaitai becoming ineligible due to his contract being shortened, and Emmanuel Moseley signing an extension. If the Lions want comp picks, they may have to hold back in signing CFAs of their own. Potential: Low

Green Bay Packers

The Packers have only 12 pending UFAs, but some are notable enough to consider–Jon Runyan Jr., Darnell Savage, AJ Dillon, Keisean Nixon. Because the Packers have a long history of prioritizing comp picks, they can never be ruled out in getting some, even if the quantity of candidates they have to work with is low. Potential: Moderate

Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins will lead the way with a 3rd round CFA contract if he leaves Minnesota. Right behind him will be Danielle Hunter coming off another double digit sack season. Dalton Risner, KJ Osborn, DJ Wonnum, and Marcus Davenport are other Vikings from 2023 that could see good contracts elsewhere if not retained. Suffice to say, the Vikings will be poised very well to make their 2025 draft slate abundant if they so choose. Potential: Very High

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are yet another team that has a decent number of pending UFAs, but none particularly notable. Barring a surprise signing, there’s not much to talk about with them beyond the typical observation that they could get low round comp picks if they hold off on free agency. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the advisable thing to do if they have outlets to improve the team there. Potential: Low

Carolina Panthers

Brian Bruns was taken off this list after he was franchise tagged. This leaves Jeremy Chinn and Frankie Luvu as their most prominent CFA candidates. DJ Chark also can’t be discounted for another decent contract. But comp pick consideration could be offset by the need to improve a roster that was the worst in the NFL in 2023, plus with fewer draft picks due to trading up for Bryce Young. Potential: Low

New Orleans Saints

The Saints remain devoted to keeping core players on their roster, no matter how much they amortize the cap dollars associated with their contracts to do so. This regularly leaves them with few CFA worthy players hitting free agency. But on the other hand, filling up on incumbent players also tends to make them avoid free agency. In the past couple of seasons this has generated some comp picks for them, but typically they do not care much about them, and this could be one of those seasons where they revert to their mean. Potential: Low

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With Antoine Winfield Jr. tagged and Mike Evans extended, all eyes will be on Baker Mayfield to see if he signs an extension with the team. If he doesn’t, then he’ll easily generate a 3rd round comp pick for the Bucs even on a lower end starting quarterback contract. But even if he does, there will be other players such as Lavonte David, Devin White, Aaron Stinnie Ryan Neal, and Greg Gaines that could also net CFA contracts if not retained. The precise quality of comp picks will hinge on what Mayfield decides to do, but the quantity feels like it will be there for Tampa. Potential: High

Arizona Cardinals

Marquise Brown leads a list of 17 pending UFAs as he comes off a rookie contract that saw him traded from Baltimore. Josh Woods and Antonio Hamilton are two other players that played more than 50% of the snaps to watch out for. But with not much else here, and an abundance of draft picks to use this season, it might be at the end of April when they decide to take significant steps to improve the roster. Potential: Low

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams have been very adept at leveraging comp picks to improve their roster with skilled drafting–in 2023, they got an extremely positive example of that with Puka Nacua. This season, they don’t have as many high profile pending UFAs as they did before, but even if they’re low round comp picks, players like Coleman Shelton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jordan Fuller, or Kevin Dotson could keep their modus operandi going. Potential: Moderate

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers traded a 3rd round 2024 comp pick to acquire Chase Young on the last season of his contract, and it very much felt like a move in which they hoped to recoup some of that draft capital with a future comp pick in 2025 if they chose not to extend him. Oren Burks and Ray-Ray McCloud were underrated contributors for the team recently. And San Darnold can’t be counted out for a CFA eligible contract even as a backup. This slate of pending UFAs doesn’t look as lucrative for San Francisco as last season, where they had nine leave, but there’s still plenty to work with. Potential: Moderate

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks also made an aggressive trade for Leonard Williams, giving up 2nd and 5th round picks to the Giants in order to get him on the final season of his contract. Recouping some of that value with a comp pick could be on their mind. Noah Fant, Evan Brown, Damien Lewis, and maybe Drew Lock even on a backup QB contract could also be in play. The big question with Seattle though is that with Pete Carroll no longer there, will John Schneider shape a different vision for the roster than he has before that involves free agency considerably–especially after also cutting a spate of players in Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, and Will Dissly. Potential: Moderate

Projecting The 2024 Compensatory Picks

This article refers specifically to OTC’s final projection for the 2024 NFL Draft’s compensatory picks. For details on the basics and methodology of projecting compensatory picks in general, please reference this article. Note that this projection does not include compensatory picks awarded via 2020 Resolution JC-2A.

To understand how this projection is generated for each team, please reference the compensatory pick cancellation charts here.

The Projection

TeamRdCompensated Departure
JAX3Jawaan Taylor
PHI3Javon Hargrave
SF3Jimmy Garoppolo
BUF3Tremaine Edmunds
BAL4Ben Powers
NO5David Onyemata
GB5Allen Lazard
NO5Marcus Davenport
PHI5Isaac Seumalo
PHI5Andre Dillard
KC5Andrew Wylie
DAL5Connor McGovern
NO5Kaden Elliss
CIN5Vonn Bell
SF5Samson Ebukam
LAR5Baker Mayfield
PHI5T.J. Edwards
JAX6Arden Key
LAR6Matt Gay
DAL6Dalton Schultz
SF6Jimmie Ward
SF6Azeez Al-Shaair
GB6Jarran Reed
LAR6Nick Scott
LAR6A’Shawn Robinson
GB7Dean Lowry
CIN7Samaje Perine
NYJ7Nate Herbig
NYJ7Mike White
TB7Mike Edwards
LAC7Drue Tranquill
NYJ7Dan Feeney
Over 32-pick limit; not awarded
JAX7Chris Manhertz
DAL7Noah Brown
JAX7Marvin Jones
GB7Robert Tonyan

This draft, I am projecting that there will be 36 regular compensatory picks generated from the typical netting process. However, each year only exactly 32 picks are awarded. Therefore, the picks that rank 33rd and lower are not awarded, although the official release will typically acknowledge presence of any comp picks in excess of 32, as this list does with strikethrough text.

Over the past three years, the official release has happened just before the start of free agency. Last year it was the Thursday before on March 9, the Monday before two years ago on March 15, and the Thursday before again three years ago on March 10. There have also been multiple times when the official release happens on the Friday before the NFL Scouting Combine. This year, that is scheduled for February 27-March 4, so the Friday before would be February 23. The range of the release could be anywhere after the Super Bowl (February 12) but before the start of free agency (March 13).

Cutoff Projections

The most difficult part of projecting the compensatory picks is accurately identifying where the cutoffs lie between each rounds, and where the cutoff for qualifying as a Compensatory Free Agent (CFA) is. That is because the larger subset of the leaguewide players of which the smaller subset of compensatory free agents are judged against is never the same size, and requires accurately tracking roster transactions for thousands of players–a feat that will always have a margin of error.

The key number that determines these cutoffs is, per Appendix V, Paragraph 2(a) of the CBA, is the number of “all other League players on rosters at the conclusion of the regular season”. This draft, I will continue to use the average of the estimated number of leaguewide players in previous sets of compensatory picks, dating back to 2014. This average comes out to 1,965, and is the number that is used for the above projection. If that number is close to accurate, here is where the cutoffs would lie:

RoundPercentileOverall RankRepresentative Player
3rd/4th95th (top 5%)98Harold Landry
4th/5th90th (top 10%)196Jack Conklin
5th/6th85th (top 15%)295Malik Hooker
6th/7th75th (top 25%)492Cody Barton
7th/Qualify65th (top 35%)688William Gholston

Players On The Cutoff Bubbles

While it is my hope that my projection of where the cutoffs lie is correct, there is enough of a margin of error that the players that are close to them may fall on the opposite side of where I have them projected. In most cases, if I’m wrong it means that the team in question will still get a comp pick for that player, but that it may be in a round higher or lower. But in a few cases (those are bolded), it could change cancellations, possibly taking away or greatly devaluing a projected comp pick—or possibly adding or greatly upgrading a comp pick.




  • Projected 4th/5th cutoff: #196
  • David Onyemata (New Orleans): #197
  • Allen Lazard (Green Bay): #198


  • Baker Mayfield (Los Angeles Rams): #286
  • TJ Edwards (Minnesota): #289
  • Projected 5th/6th cutoff: #295
  • Charles Omenihu (San Francisco): #299
  • Arden Key (Jacksonville): #310


  • Rakeem Nuñez-Roches (Tampa Bay): #491
  • Projected 6th/7th cutoff: #492
  • Sean Murphy-Bunting (Tampa Bay): #506
  • Dean Lowry (Green Bay): #509
  • Samaje Perine (Cincinnati): #514



Qualifying/Valuation Questions

Perhaps the most compelling story among compensatory free agents this season has been the play of Baker Mayfield, who because the starting quarterback for the Bucs, and took them all the way to a playoff win in the wild card. He signed for a base salary of $4 million for this season, and that alone would have placed his contract in the 6th round. But there were also $4.5 million in incentives that he could earn. I estimate that he earned $2.85 million of those incentives, as illustrated in the tweet before, and the total of $6.85 million he should have earned in 2023 should push his contract into the 5th round.

There was also an instance of a CFA being traded, and in this case, a player went back to the team that he left in free agency: after leaving Kansas City for the New York Jets, Mecole Hardman was traded back to the Chiefs in the middle of the season. This should cause Hardman to cancel himself out in the Chiefs’ cancellation chart, and leave them with one fewer comp pick than anticipated–in this case a 5th rounder for JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving for Foxboro.

Charles Omenihu will also be a player that could affect the Chiefs’ projected comp pick, as well as one for the 49ers. His six game suspension for violation of the personal conduct policy regarding domestic violence limited the snaps he could play, and has placed his contract on the 5th/6th round bubble. This projection has his contract in the 6th round, but if it falls in the 5th instead, San Francisco will get a 5th for his departure instead of a 6th for Jimmie Ward going to Houston, while Kansas City will still get a 5th but it will be a few picks lower, with the compensated player being Smith-Schuster instead of Andrew Wylie.

Tampa Bay also has a possibility to upgrade the 7th round pick it’s projected to get to a 6th rounder. If both Rakeem Nuñez-Roches and Sean Murphy-Bunting get their contracts valued in the 6th round, that will give the Bucs a 6th rounder for Murphy-Bunting’s departure, as the signing of Greg Gaines would instead cancel the departure of Mike Edwards to Kansas City.

Finally, there could be a bit of drama on who receives the Mr. Irrelevant pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. It should be a nailbiter between either the Jets, for Dan Feeney leaving for Chicago, or the Jaguars, for Chris Manhertz leaving for Denver. According to OTC’s compensatory formula page, the two players are within a point or two of each other. It is unclear how the compensatory formula resolves ties–of which Feeney and Manhertz could end up in–and after every official release is made, I regularly have to clean up the order of a few comp picks due to the resolution of tiebreakers. Most of the time this is trivial, as it just moves picks one spot up or down. But in the case of the 32nd vs. 33rd comp pick, it could mean the difference between getting a comp pick or not. OTC’s formula has the Jets coming on top with Feeney, but it could be wrong and say the Jaguars have it with Manhertz instead.