I’m happy to introduce several additions and updates to Over The Cap that have been much time in the making. Let’s jump right in to explain what’s new.(more…)
Recent Posts by
UPDATE – January 8: This projection has been revised to account for a correction to the qualification of Mike Iupati. Please read more here.
This article refers specifically to OTC’s projection for the 2020 NFL Draft’s compensatory picks. For details on the basics and methodology of projecting compensatory picks in general, please reference this article.
To understand how this projection is generated for each team, please reference the compensatory picks cancellation charts here.
|Team||Round||Compensated Free Agent||APY|
|Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded|
Note that although there are 33 eligible compensatory picks listed in this projection, each year only exactly 32 picks are awarded. Therefore, the pick that ranks 33rd is 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.
Compensatory picks became tradeable beginning with the 2017 NFL Draft. This year, there has been one such trade thus far, with the Texans sending a 3rd round comp pick to the Browns for Duke Johnson–although it may be unclear as to which pick is sent to Cleveland should the Texans receive two 3rd round comp picks.
I expect the official release to come out on February 21, the Friday before the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Releasing the list then is sensible, as it allows executives at the Combine to discuss possible trades with full knowledge of their draft capital.
It was suggested via the resolution allowing comp picks to be traded on December 2, 2015 that the cutoffs between each rounds and whether or not a player had an APY high enough to qualify was determined by a “rank[ing] against all players in the League who are on rosters at the end of the season”. I have conjectured from this evidence that the cutoffs are based on a percentile system. After refining the OTC’s program following the official release of the 2017 compensatory picks, it’s my guess that the percentiles operate on even percentages divisible by five, as illustrated in the table below.
The most difficult part of projecting the compensatory picks is accurately identifying where these cutoffs lie. 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.
At the end of the 2019 regular season, OTC’s database identified a total of 1,958 players that were either on the active roster or reserve lists, and had also been on a roster for at least 10 games during the 2019 regular season. As explained in the general methodology in the previous link, the cutoffs for each round and for qualifying as a compensatory free agent (CFA) have been established by this projection on certain percentile ranks of all players on the active roster and reserve lists at the end of the regular season, sorted by APY adjusted for snap counts in descending order and also represented by the player at the cutoff point. For 2019, these cutoffs are as follows:
|Round||Percentile||Overall Rank||Representative Player|
|3rd/4th||95th (top 5%)||99||Trumaine Johnson|
|4th/5th||90th (top 10%)||197||Eddie Goldman|
|5th/6th||85th (top 15%)||295||Solomon Thomas|
|6th/7th||75th (top 25%)||491||Robby Anderson|
|7th/Qualify||50th (top 50%)||980||Chuma Edoga|
A change in the cutoff calculation at the top
After reviewing the previous five seasons of compensatory pick projections, it is my belief that in the past, I incorrectly calculated the APY of players leaguewide whose contracts were extended. I believe this error was most grievous in 2018, a draft in which I projected too many 3rd round comp picks to be awarded. By correcting this possible error, the most significant change is that more players have jumped ahead in order of the compensatory free agents from the 2019 offseason, particularly in the 3rd round. That means that several players whose contracts I initially projected as 3rd rounders may instead only be 4th rounders. While I hope that I’m correct in making this correction, I don’t have the highest confidence in that, and I could be wrong, which would restore several previously projected 3rd round comp picks.
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 very 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.
- Nick Foles (Philadelphia): #86
- Projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #99
- CJ Mosley (Baltimore): #101
- Rodger Saffold (Los Angeles Rams): #107
- Sheldon Richardson (Minnesota): #112
- Kareem Jackson (Houston): #119
- Kwon Alexander (Tampa Bay): #134
- John Brown (Baltimore): #187
- Golden Tate (Philadelphia): #189
- Projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #195
- Projected 5th/6th cutoff: #295
- Cameron Wake (Miami): #309
- None (Projected 6th/7th cutoff: #491)
- None (Projected 6th/7th cutoff: #980)
The level at which teams are becoming more mindful of compensatory picks has reached new highs. This once again includes the rule where compensatory free agents will not qualify if they are not on their roster past Week 10 (this year, the Sunday games took place on November 10). This year, notable cuts right before this date include LJ Fort (cut by Philadelphia September 27), Deone Bucannon (cut by Tampa Bay October 9), Justin Bethel (cut by Baltimore October 21–and acknowledged by John Harbaugh as comp picks being the reason why), Donte Moncrief (cut by Pittsburgh November 2), Andrew Sendejo (cut by Philadelphia November 5), and Mike Davis (cut by Chicago November 9).
While I have high confidence that all these players, among others cut before Week 10, will not qualify, two that will be specifically noted in the altering scenarios below will be Moncrief and Davis. That’s because both were claimed off waivers by the Panthers, thus spending more than 10 weeks on NFL rosters. The precedent of Martellus Bennett not qualifying in 2018 makes me believe that Moncrief and Davis will not qualify, but because that’s the only precedent I have on record, it’s safe to note what would happen if I’m wrong–and it would be bad news for Pittsburgh and/or Chicago.
There are two players that I am guessing will not qualify to become compensatory free agents due to having their previous contracts shortened via renegotiation. On March 16, 2018, Latavius Murray and the Vikings renegotiated his contract that included deleting the 2019 year, allowing him to become a free agent one year earlier. Murray subsequently signed with New Orleans on March 12, 2019.
Similarly, on March 15, 2018, Mike Iupati and the Cardinals renegotiated his contract that including voiding his 2019 year for salary cap proration purposes. Iupati subsequently signed with Seattle on March 14, 2019. If I am wrong about either or both of these players not qualifying, it will change the comp picks awarded to Minnesota and/or Seattle.
UPDATE – January 8: I now believe that my initial analysis of Iupati’s renegotiation is incorrect.
A source that OTC considers reliable informs us that Iupati will indeed qualify as a compensatory free agent. The reason why is that Iupati’s renegotiation occurred immediately before the start of the 2018 league year, despite being first reported in the media immediately after the start of the new league year. The explanation is that renegotiations that shorten a contract only disqualify a player from becoming a CFA if the shortening causes the contract to expire in the same league year that the renegotiation occurred. If true, this would help better explain why Adrian Peterson qualified as a CFA in favor of Minnesota in 2018 despite shortening his contract via renegotiation, as that renegotiation happened well before this cited cutoff date of the start of the new league year.
A similar question regarding void years was raised with Alex Okafor, who went from New Orleans to Kansas City as an unrestricted free agent. In Okafor’s case, a late renegotiation in his two year deal with the Saints transformed a player option to void the second year should Okafor log three or more sacks to an automatic void. I am guessing that Okafor will qualify as a CFA because the void year existed in the original contract, and was not created via renegotiation. If I’m wrong about that, it will help out the Chiefs’ comp pick standing.
Possible Altering Scenarios
- If Mike Davis qualifies, Chicago will not get a 4th for Adrian Amos.
- If Kareem Jackson’s contract is valued in the 3rd round, Houston will get a 3rd for him instead of a 7th for Kendall Lamm.
- Kansas City
- If Alex Okafor does not qualify, Kansas City will get a 4th for Steven Nelson.
- If Cameron Wake’s contract is valued in the 5th round, Miami will get a 5th for him instead of a 7th for Brandon Bolden.
- If Latavius Murray qualifies, Minnesota will get a 6th or a 7th for him.
- If Donte Moncrief qualifies, Pittsburgh will not get a 3rd for Le’Veon Bell.
- If Mike Iupati does not qualify, Seattle will get a 7th for Brett Hundley.
With a few weeks of snap counts in the books for the 2019 regular season, let’s take a look at where the 2020 compensatory picks projection stands.
First, let’s start with identifying some changes from last May that I feel will be permanent.
- The Cardinals cut Kevin White, which was bad for the Bears, as that caused the Bears to lose their one and only projected comp pick, a fourth rounder for Adrian Amos. The Bears’ league leading active drought of comp picks is likely to go from ten to eleven drafts.
- The Cardinals caused two teams to fall completely off the 2020 comp pick list, by cutting Darius Philon after an arrest for threatening to shoot a woman outside a strip club. That was bad news for the Chargers, as this transaction caused them to lose their 4th round comp pick for Tyrell Williams.
- The Chargers weren’t the only AFC West team to leave the list: after the Colts first placed Spencer Ware on reserve/PUP, then, at Ware’s request, released him from that list, the Chiefs lost their 4th round comp pick for Steven Nelson. Unlike with the Chargers, however, there’s a faint hope that the Chiefs’ pick could come back, as explained below.
- The 49ers cut Jordan Matthews, and that caused the Eagles to lose their 4th round comp pick for Golden Tate.
- The Lions cut CJ Anderson, resulting in the loss of a 4th round comp pick for Lamarcus Joyner.
- However, there was one transaction that did cause a team to gain a comp pick. That was when Dallas cut George Iloka, opening up a 5th rounder to the Cowboys for losing Cole Beasley.
All of these losses of mid round comp picks have created a situation not seen since 2013: few, if any comp picks not being awarded due to missing the 32 pick limit. This is good news for teams like Denver, Minnesota, and the New York Giants who were previously at risk for missing out on 7th rounders due to that limit. As I’ll explain below, as it stands now there are 33 eligible comp picks, and as I see it, that number may fall to exactly 32, opening the way for Tampa Bay to be awarded with the rare net value 7th rounder for losing and gaining the same number of CFAs, but with the ones lost being valued significantly higher.
Meanwhile, this year there has been an unusual amount of movement on the compensatory picks board that I believe is largely caused to injuries to key players, most but not all of whom are compensatory free agents. Most of these changes I do not expect to linger as the players in question return to full health, but just in case they don’t, it’s at least worthwhile to study some of these changes that could stick.
For this update, I’ll do something different by displaying two tables. The first one is where the projections stand right now, after Week 3. The second one is an injury-adjusted table that attempts to take into account when some of those injured players might come back, by adjusting their snap counts accordingly.
|Team||Round||Compensated Free Agent||APY|
|Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded|
|Team||Round||Compensated Free Agent||APY|
Here are the changes that I do not necessarily expect to stay, and why:
- Philadelphia’s 3rd rounder for Nick Foles is now one of the lowest 3rd rounders instead of the highest due to his broken clavicle. However, his contract is of so high value that I do not forecast it leaving the 3rd round. If reports that Foles could return by Week 11 hold up, the pick for Foles should fall somewhere in the middle of the other 3rd round comp picks.
- CJ Mosley’s groin injury from Week 1 has demoted his comp pick value to Baltimore from the 3rd to the 4th round. While it’s unclear when Mosley will return, I forecast that he would need to miss 13 games–an amount that feels unlikely–in order for that demotion to stick.
- Similarly, Miami’s comp pick for Ja’Wuan James has been demoted to a 4th rounder due to a knee injury he suffered early in Week 1. Unlike with Mosley, there’s a higher change that this demotion could stick. My forecasting suggests that missing six games–of which James has done half of so far–could be enough to keep his contract valued in the 4th round.
- Denver’s bad luck with injury doesn’t end with James: Bryce Callahan has also been indefinitely sidelined due to lingering recovery from his foot injury from the prior season. The only possible faint positive for the Broncos there is that if Callahan were to miss 10 or more games, his contract may fall in value to a 6th rounder, meaning that Denver would get a 5th for Billy Turner instead of a 6th for Shaq Barrett.
- Although Trevor Siemian and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have been placed on IR, it appears that even missing almost all of the season will not lower their contract values to the point that they would not qualify for the compensatory formula.
- The biggest surprise has been Jordan Devey, on a minimum salary benefit contract, emerging as a starter with the Raiders. This has happened due to a combination of injuries suffered by Gabe Jackson and Denzelle Good, as well as a two game suspension of Richie Incognito. This is unexpected good news for the Chiefs, as if Devey’s qualification sticks, it would reopen their 4th round comp pick for Steven Nelson that they lost when the Colts cut Ware. However, I forecast that in order for that stick, Devey would need to start at least 13 games, something that strikes me as unlikely at this point.
There are a couple other observations to make. One is that Minnesota’s 3rd rounder for Sheldon Richardson is very much on the cusp of falling to a 4th rounder, as defensive linemen tend to not get as many snaps as other positions. Vikings fans should want Richardson to stay healthy and play as much as possible.
The other is that the Texans may pick up a second 3rd round comp pick that would be for Kareem Jackson, instead of a 7th rounder for Kendall Lamm. The reason for this is that Bradley Roby has barely fallen to the 4th round in value, thus avoiding his contract canceling out Jackson’s. However, it’s a very narrow needle being threaded between these two players, and should Roby’s contract inch back up to the 3rd round, the Texans would revert back to a 7th for Lamm instead of a 3rd Jackson. Texans fans should want Jackson to remain healthy and playing nearly all snaps in Denver, as he has done so thus far.
Finally, there are still some opportunities for teams to pick up comp picks if they cut certain players before Week 10:
- The removal of Matthews from the Eagles’ CFAs lost column means that Philadelphia must now cut both Andrew Sendejo and LJ Fort to regain their 4th rounders for Tate and Jordan Hicks. However, with Sendejo logging a solid 41.6% of offensive snaps so far, and Fort being a leading special teams player, Howie Roseman may consider their contributions now greater than 4th round comp picks later.
- Steelers fans were not happy with Donte Moncrief’s performance early in the season, and the team heard that loud and clear as he was benched last week. If Pittsburgh cuts Moncrief before Week 10, they open up a 7th rounder for Fort–and also further protect their 3rd rounder for Le’Veon Bell should the Eagles cut Fort for their own comp pick reasons as described above.
- Lastly, the Bucs still have the ability to turn their net value 7th into a 3rd for Kwon Alexander if they cut one of their CFAs before Week 10. The most likely candidate would be Deone Bucannon, who has been strictly a special teamer in Tampa Bay thus far.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement is structured in such a way that teams have inexpensive and exclusive control over players during their first four accrued seasons, before they can earn unrestricted free agency. Now that most of the 2015 rookie classes have done so, let’s take a look how those incoming players as a whole did, and look at classes that contributed the most and least on the basis of snap counts, and then see how many of those players got vested veteran contracts during this offseason.
When May 7th passed, the second Tuesday after the 2019 NFL Draft, it also closed out the addition of compensatory free agents (CFAs) into the formula for the 2020 NFL Draft. After waiting to gain knowledge of relevant contracts, we can now take a look at the 2020 compensatory picks list, with only CFA subtractions now possible due to cuts or too low of a salary. (more…)
With the 2019 NFL Draft now in the books, it’s time to take a quick look at some veteran players whose contracts may be thrown into question after rookie acquisitions made by their current teams.
After Alabama’s spring game, Nick Saban said this, via ESPN:
Now, we have guys that have no draft grades, seventh-round grades, free-agent grades, fifth-round grades that are going out of the draft. And the person that loses in that is the player. If you’re a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year — I’m not going to say any names — goes and starts for his team, so he’s making third-round money, which is not that great. He’d be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more.
So, the agent makes out, the club makes out, and now they’ve got a guy that’s going to play for that kind of money for three more years, all right? And everybody out there’s saying, “Well, get to your next contract.” Well, there’s obviously 50 percent of these guys never getting to a next contract. And that doesn’t mean all the rest of them got to one, either.
Is Saban correct? The short, boring answer is that there are far too many variables, of which we’ll return to in a moment, to make this statement with any kind of high confidence. But let’s presume that Saban’s draft projection as applied to this case holds up. What’s a reasonable financial projection to make to try to verify this claim? (more…)