On Rebuilding in the NFL and the Giants

We read so many things about rebuilding in the NFL these days and I think my definition and expectation of a rebuild is different than others. The other day when Odell Beckham gave a controversial interview focusing on the Giants lack of performance I mentioned that this was ultimately the Giants fault for not embracing a rebuilding opportunity. That was met with many comments about how stupid it was for me to suggest they not keep Beckham, which was not something I ever said. So I figured why not have a small discussion as to the way I look at a rebuilding effort in the NFL and how it maybe should have pertained to the Giants. Continue reading On Rebuilding in the NFL and the Giants »

2019 Compensatory Picks Projection Update (9/11/2018)

With Week 1 fully in the books, of which includes snap counts in 2017, it’s a good opportunity to take an update on where OTC’s projection of the 2018 compensatory picks stand.

TeamRoundCompensated Free AgentAPY
WAS3Kirk Cousins$28,000,000
MIN3Case Keenum$18,000,000
NE3Nate Solder$15,400,000
LAR3Sammy Watkins$15,830,000
CAR3Andrew Norwell$13,000,000
LAR3Trumaine Johnson$14,500,000
NE3Malcolm Butler$12,170,000
BAL3Ryan Jensen$10,500,000
NYG4Justin Pugh$9,005,000
IND4Donte Moncrief$9,600,000
PHI4Trey Burton$7,925,000
ATL4Dontari Poe$8,533,333
WAS5Spencer Long$6,850,000
ATL5Taylor Gabriel$6,500,000
WAS6Ryan Grant$5,000,000
NE6Dion Lewis$4,950,000
PHI6Patrick Robinson$4,925,000
PHI6Beau Allen$5,000,000
MIN6Teddy Bridgewater$5,500,000
WAS6Terrelle Pryor$4,500,000
CIN6Andre Smith$4,000,000
CIN6Chris Smith$3,900,000
SF6Aaron Lynch$3,950,000
KC6Terrance Mitchell$3,233,333
CIN6AJ McCarron$3,950,000
ARI7Jaron Brown$2,750,000
ARI7Drew Stanton$3,150,000
MIN7Tramaine Brock$3,000,000
MIN7Shamar Stephen$2,100,000
NE7Cameron Fleming$2,500,000
LAR7Cody Davis$2,500,000
ARI7Blaine Gabbert$2,000,000
Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded
ARI7Matt Barkley$1,400,000
LAR7Derek Carrier$1,275,000
SF7Leon Hall$1,060,000
SF7Dontae Johnson$1,060,000
IND7Frank Gore$1,105,000
SF7Tank Carradine$1,150,000
BAL7Mike Wallace$915,000
DAL7net value

Quite a few compensatory free agents (CFA) did not ultimately make their new teams’ rosters upon the cutdown to 53 players. Here are the cuts that created relevant changes to the list of projected 2019 comp picks:

  • There was a lot of activity on both sides of Dallas’s ledger. Both Jonathan Cooper and Brice Butler failed to make the rosters of San Francisco and Arizona. The Cowboys offset one of these losses by cutting Kony Ealy. However, it was not enough to avoid staying positive in the difference between CFAs lost and gained–now at two apiece. This means that Dallas’s potential 4th rounder for Anthony Hitchens has been demoted to a net value 7th that would have no reasonable chance of being within the 32 pick limit.

    It appeared that Dallas was going to rectify this by initially cutting Deonte Thompson as part of cutdown to 53. Instead, they brought him back two days later in an effort to circumvent waiver rules. But Cowboys fans should keep an eye on Thompson’s production over the next two months. If it is not good, Dallas may be better suited to let him go before Week 10 so they can regain the 4th rounder for Hitchens. A similar argument could be made for backup tackle Cameron Fleming, depending on whether the team’s depth on the offensive line can improve.

  • Cutting Cooper was not only a loss for Dallas but a gain for San Francisco. The 49ers are now projected to pick up a 6th rounder for Aaron Lynch. They also have three eligible 7th rounder for other players, but all are likely to miss the 32 pick limit.
  • The Lions saw two of their CFAs lost–Travis Swanson and Don Carey–fall off their ledger due to being cut. With only four CFAs lost to five gained, Detroit is now projected to get nothing. There is an outside chance that Carey, who was cut with an injury settlement, could still qualify, but that alone is not enough to get Detroit back on the board.
  • The Jets cut wide receiver Charles Johnson, thus costing the Carolina Panthers a 6th rounder for Ed Dickson.
  • The 49ers cut Jeremiah Attaochu, thus taking the Chargers fully out of 2019 comp pick contention, though it was only a 7th they had on the line.
  • Philadelphia improved their 2019 comp pick standing (more on that below) by cutting Corey Nelson. This kept Denver off the board despite cutting one of their own CFAs in Clinton McDonald.

With some snap counts recorded, there has also been some shuffling in the order of the comp picks. There was only one change in round that have resulted: Baltimore got their comp pick for Ryan Jensen upgraded from a 4th to a 3rd. But this, and other picks, are subject to change if players get injured or otherwise miss playing time.

Also important is the final piece of the puzzle that’s unknown for the projection: the number of leaguewide players qualifying for the formula that compensatory free agents will be judged against. Currently, that number is at 1918, but it will steadily go up during the regular season, as players are cut or placed on reserve lists, with new players signed to replace them. As this happens, some CFAs that are qualifying now may not ultimately qualify. Here are the relevant cases of that to watch:

  • The Giants got back on the board with a 4th rounder for Justin Pugh, but this happened only because Geno Smith barely made it back into qualifying range after cutdowns to 53. He’s still qualifying despite not logging any snaps, as backup quarterbacks tend to do. But he is still very much on the bubble, and unless Phillip Rivers, who has a lengthy starting streak, is unable to play, that 4th for Pugh will likely come back off the board.
  • The Falcons should be aware on how much they intend to use Logan Paulsen on offense this season. Right now, both he (a CFA signed) and Andre Roberts (a CFA lost) are barely qualifying. But Paulsen played more snaps than Roberts did on Week 1. If that continues, there may be a chance that Paulsen qualifies but Roberts does not. If that happens, the Falcons will lose a 5th rounder for Taylor Gabriel.
  • Finally, despite the best efforts of the Eagles to get Mike Wallace to not qualify for the formula, playing 91.7% of the snaps Week 1 puts him fairly comfortably in the qualifying range for now. This alone isn’t that damaging for Philadelphia, as right now Wallace is only cancelling out a 7th for LeGarrette Blount that would be on the bubble for making the 32 pick limit. But that could change if the Chargers decide to shake up their kicking position once again. Should they cut Caleb Sturgis before Week 10, Wallace would have no choice but to cancel out one of the Eagles’ 6th round picks for Beau Allen and Patrick Robinson.

Top Roster Spending

Received a good question the other day relating to star power in the NFL and how many “stars” a team can afford. So I decided to break down every team in the NFL and their contract commitments for the top salaried players on the team. This analysis is not based on cap figures but on annual contract values and it’s the new money contract value.

Here is the average spending per team for the top players on their roster.

Top 3Top 5Top 10Top 15
$46,652,748$67,009,926$102,725,085$124,657,604

These are pretty big numbers. If we assume every team spends to the cap (around $177 million) then the average commits over 25% of its budget to just three players. About 70% goes to the top 15 salaries players on a roster.  This gives you a pretty strong indication as to why hitting in the draft and finding undrafted free agent gems is so important since you basically are spending pennies to make up the bottom 40 players on a roster. Lets look at the big spenders.

The Big 3

There are 9 teams that have over $50M per year spent on their top 3 players. Only 3 of these teams made the playoffs last season.  Those teams were the Falcons (who spend the most of any team at $58.75M for Matt Ryan, Jake Matthews, and Julio Jones), Vikings ($56.9M on Kirk Cousins, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter) and Steelers ($53.4M on Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and LeVeon Bell).  For the Falcons and Vikings these represent new contracts so their top salaries increased this year from last while the Steelers are basically status quo. The non playoff teams were the Lions, Giants, Redskins, Broncos, Cardinals, and Chargers. For teams with an incumbent front office or head coach they will likely have their jobs in jeopardy if they fail to fire again this season.

There are only 3 teams with $40 million or less committed to their top 3 and not surprisingly they are teams that have had terrible hit rates in the draft for some time. The Bears come in at $40M on Kyle Fuller, Allen Robinson, and Akiem Hicks. That’s at least a respectable number. The Jets have just $32.5M committed to Trumaine Johnson, Josh McCown, and Kelvin Beachum while the Bills, who have ripped their roster apart, have a paltry $27.01M spent on Star Lotulelei,  Jerry Hughes, and LeSean McCoy.

Top 5 Approach

Since we are just adding two players here we don’t have too many changes. The biggest jump comes from the Jaguars who rank 14th on their top 3 but number 4 in the top 5. That is not surprising since the team doesn’t have a big time homegrown player at the top but a large number of players making over $10 million. They spend $76 million on Blake Bortles, Marcell Dareus, Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, and AJ Bouye. The only other team to make a move from outside the top 10 are the Panthers who move from 11 to 10 in salary. The Broncos and Cardinals drop out of the top 10 spenders. The bottom teams are all very similar with the Jets and Bills being the only two teams to not clear $50 million.

The Top 10

Not surprisingly the top 10 valuation is filled with playoff teams from last season. Success generally leads to extensions and free agent signings up and down the roster and those players are often easier to come by than the tier 1 guys who make up those top 3 salaries on a team. Of the 9 teams that value their top 10 at a minimum of  $110 million, 7 made the playoffs last season. Those teams were (in order of salary), Vikings, Jaguars, Falcons, Steelers, Panthers, Eagles, and Rams. The only two to not make the playoffs were the Packers, who were impacted by the loss of Aaron Rodgers, and the Broncos.

The bottom also has some playoff teams from last year as well. That includes the roster gutting Bills, different minded Patriots, and eternally cap strapped Saints. The Bills don’t even crack $70 million this season while their divisional counterpart Jets are the next lowest at just under $81 million. The next lowest team is at $89 million so the Jets and Bills are just way far off.

The other really interesting team here is the Cardinals. The Cardinals rank 8th in the NFL in spending on their top 3, and 12th on the top 5, but drop all the way down to 25th when you factor in the top 10. No other team has a rise or fall that dramatic. From 6-10 the Cardinals are only spending  $24.6 million, lower than even the Bills at $25.9 million. Their total should rise if they sign David Johnson to an extension but it’s a different strategy than most of the other teams to get in on the high end for so many players but bow out everywhere else.

Top 15 Spending

The top 15 spending basically follows the same patterns as the top 10, which makes sense since we are only adding 5 more players to the mix. If you take the top 3 out of the equation and see who is trying to do more with mid tier talent the teams that make a big positive jump are the Browns (5th at $67.5M), Bears (8th at $63.5M), Eagles (2nd at $78.6M), Rams (6th at 67.2M), Jets (16th at $57.4M) and Jaguars (1st at $86M). Each of these teams jumped at least 13 spots from their top 3 ranking.

On the bottom end the negative jumpers were the Cardinals (31st at $42.2M) who I discussed above, Giants (27th at $48M), Lions (25th at $49.1M), Falcons (19th at $54.4M), Colts (30th at $43.5M), Saints (29th at $46.5M), and Redskins (20th at $53.4M). These teams were all at least 14 spots lower in their respective rankings and the team most reliant on lower money contributors if their top players don’t carry the team to a very high level.

Here is the salary spent for each team

TeamTop 3Top 5Top 10Top 15Spending 4-15
Falcons$58,750,000$82,000,000$116,550,000$136,423,807$54,423,807
Vikings$56,900,000$85,320,000$137,820,000$163,931,500$78,611,500
Lions$56,143,000$75,143,000$106,193,000$124,243,069$49,100,069
Giants$53,500,000$76,500,000$108,048,688$124,478,363$47,978,363
Steelers$53,394,000$75,850,200$116,177,525$136,074,858$60,224,658
Redskins$51,700,000$72,550,000$105,853,910$125,958,500$53,408,500
Broncos$51,083,333$71,258,333$110,908,333$136,352,476$65,094,143
Cardinals$50,510,000$70,515,000$95,164,440$112,708,983$42,193,983
Chargers$50,062,500$72,729,167$104,082,585$125,081,337$52,352,170
Packers$49,700,000$73,700,000$119,200,000$141,737,684$68,037,684
Panthers$49,219,059$71,569,059$112,077,392$134,887,718$63,318,659
Saints$49,000,000$65,500,000$93,116,667$112,010,768$46,510,768
Colts$48,547,000$63,547,000$91,419,228$107,056,614$43,509,614
Jaguars$48,333,500$76,083,500$128,924,100$162,144,327$86,060,827
Raiders$47,705,000$66,305,000$99,804,113$124,015,864$57,710,864
49ers$46,500,000$64,300,000$97,121,929$121,755,146$57,455,146
Chiefs$45,833,333$67,201,733$101,411,124$116,146,891$48,945,158
Dolphins$45,503,724$62,628,724$99,356,224$123,445,666$60,816,942
Seahawks$45,400,000$67,650,000$101,466,667$115,322,026$47,672,026
Buccaneers$45,100,000$66,766,667$104,621,153$128,327,213$61,560,546
Eagles$44,600,000$67,850,000$112,016,666$146,463,584$78,613,584
Rams$44,575,000$67,112,000$110,479,751$134,302,442$67,190,442
Titans$43,350,000$61,850,000$96,198,688$122,827,182$60,977,182
Cowboys$43,343,000$61,743,000$95,182,085$111,923,817$50,180,817
Bengals$43,000,000$64,743,400$98,984,067$121,638,033$56,894,633
Patriots$43,000,000$60,875,000$90,600,000$111,400,000$50,525,000
Ravens$42,908,833$59,388,245$89,184,328$109,509,328$50,121,083
Texans$42,866,667$59,866,667$94,090,467$115,554,088$55,687,421
Browns$42,850,000$64,850,000$105,173,809$132,335,147$67,485,147
Bears$40,000,000$59,250,000$97,008,109$122,768,163$63,518,163
Jets$32,500,000$47,561,924$80,911,924$104,909,343$57,347,419
Bills$27,010,000$42,110,000$68,055,759$83,309,391$41,199,391

Forecasting an Extension for David Johnson

The Arizona Cardinals have been in a retooling mode over the last two seasons, evident by the team’s high roster turnover and mediocre 7-8-1 and 8-8 record in 2016 and 2017 respectively. With the team drafting Josh Rosen 10th overall, the front office should now focus on developing and retaining young talent to surround the young QB. One player who fits this mold is Running Back, David Johnson.  Johnson was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft and had a solid rookie season before breaking out in 2016 with 2,100 all-purpose yards, 20 Touchdowns, and Pro-bowl and All-Pro accolades. After suffering a season-ending wrist injury the following season, he now enters the last year of his rookie deal and is looking for an extension. The Cardinals have publicly stated Johnson is a core player and look forward to rewarding him, so it’s clear both sides are motivated to hammer out a deal. The question will be at what number?

Key Points

Before determining a fair value for Johnson, there are a few points I want to discuss. The first relates to what Jason Fitzgerald wrote in his recent article, where the multiple franchise tag isn’t a good option for Johnson and the best way to maximize his earnings is by doing an extension with the Cardinals. If Johnson were to go the multiple franchise tag route, the Cardinals would have him under his current $1.907M salary and likely apply the franchise tag in 2019. During his tagged year, Johnson would be incurring injury risk while having no long-term financial commitment from the team, which is a crucial need for Running Backs given their short career span. After Johnson would play out his first franchise tag, he would either hit free agency in 2020 or be tagged for the 2nd time. If he were to hit free agency, he’d be 28 years old and teams probably wouldn’t value him the same given his age. Being tagged a 2nd time would put Johnson in similar circumstances during his first tag, where he’d have nothing guaranteed past the tag year. One might point to Johnson’s peer, Le’Veon Bell, as a RB who seems to be doing well with the multiple-franchise tag option; however, the key difference is Bell will be hitting free agency at 27, an age where teams are more likely to show the money for a Running Back vs Johnson who would be 29 after his 2nd tag. My second point relates to the Cardinals usage of Johnson. During negotiations, Johnson’s camp should look for him to be paid like a true 3-down back. During the 2016 season, his first season as the entrenched starter, Johnson had 373 total touches, which was more than any other RB that season. I would expect Johnson to continue to be the work-horse, as he’s arguably the most dynamic player on the offense and the ability of new OC, Mike McCoy, to build a system around his players. Johnson can also further his case on his value by pointing out he had the second most targets on the team in 2016, with 120 targets. The Cardinals rushing offense also struggled when Johnson wasn’t on the field, dropping from 18th to 30th from 2016 to 2017. My last point relates to the timeline of a deal. I would expect Johnson’s camp and the Cardinals to set a deadline of exactly one month before the start of the 2018 season. The CBA doesn’t credit a player with an accrued season if their holdout extends to anything less than a month before the regular season. This has huge financial consequences as a player is eligible only for Restricted Free Agency if they have less than 4 accrued seasons. Johnson would only have 3 accrued seasons with an extended holdout.

Comps

Below is a list of some of the recent RB deals and each player’s performance 2 years leading up to the deal:

One thing to note from the table above is that I’ve included Le’Veon Bell. Although he rejected the Steelers’ offer last year, it’s important to reference the offer in determining an appropriate APY for Johnson. I would expect the Cardinals’ offer to be lower as Johnson doesn’t have the same leverage that Bell did.  Bell was already tagged at a $12.12M APY figure with a second tag valued at $14.544M, with no team control thereafter. In Johnson’s case, the Cardinals theoretically have him under control for the next 3 years at roughly $27.207M, whereas the Steelers had Bell for 2 years at $26.664M at the time of their offer. In addition, when a team like the Steelers don’t guarantee anything past the first year, they need to compensate with a higher APY.  Considering the points above, below is my estimate for Johnson’s extension and how it compares to his peers:

  • 5 Year Extension worth $48.75M in new money ($9.75M APY)
  • Signing Bonus: $10M
  • Fully Guaranteed: $19.5M ($10M SB + $3.5M 2018 Base Salary + $6M 2019 Base Salary)
  • Total Guaranteed: $25.5M (Fully Guaranteed Amount + $6M 2020 Base Salary which vests on 3rd day of 2020 league year)
  • 1 Year Cash Flow: $17.593M
  • 3 Year Cash Flow: $29M

I would expect Devonta Freeman’s APY to be the starting point as Johnson is used more when healthy and has more upside. In regards to cash flow, I believe the only way the Cardinals will agree to a 3 year cash flow higher than $27.207M, the sum of Johnson’s current salary and estimates of the next 2 tag values, is if they can get more years of control. In addition, the Cardinals will likely look to do a vesting guarantee in the third year, which gives them the flexibility to move on from Johnson for any reason after just 2 seasons. This structure was also used on Tyrann Mathieu as he was cut two years into his extension before additional guarantees in his deal triggered.

Team Impact

   The table below illustrates the cap hits each year of Johnson’s deal and the cost/benefit if the Cardinals were to release him any given year. The Cardinals are approx. $14M under the cap, with a projected $44.9M next year, so I don’t anticipate Johnson’s extension causing any salary cap constraints. In addition, if the Cardinals structure Johnson’s deal as below, Johnson’s cap hit % through 2020 will never exceed 4.21%, which is a very reasonable rate for a player of Johnson’s caliber.

Final Thoughts

It’ll be interesting to see whether Johnson and the Cardinals will be able to reach an agreement in the next month. If Johnson is realistic about his value and not asking to be in the range of Le’Veon Bell’s offer from last year, I would expect a deal in the next few weeks. Assuming Johnson signs an extension in the neighborhood of what I’ve projected, he’d trade in this year’s $1.907M salary and either a shot at free agency next year or approx. an $11.5M Franchise Tag for a deal totaling $50.632M over 6 years. At signing, Johnson would be guaranteed $19.5M, which would be paid over 2 years and then the Cardinals would decide in March 2020 whether they want to continue to employ the RB or let him walk.

Hardik Sanghavi graduated from DePaul University in 2016 with a major in finance and minor in accounting. During his time at DePaul, Hardik interned with ESPN Chicago and Priority Sports & Entertainment. He now works as a Commercial Underwriter in the Insurance Industry and is a contributor on sportsagentblog.com. You can follow him on twitter at @hardiks94

Guaranteed Salary, Short Term Contract and Other CBA Ramblings

Earlier today Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung posted a series of tweets regarding NFL contracts, the CBA, and guarantees and it was a pretty thought provoking series of tweets.  We don’t often see players articulate these points so clearly in a public forum and it gave me some food for thought to write about. You can click on the link so you can read his own words but the main bullet points were that players should get more of a percent of the revenue, contracts should be guaranteed, the salary cap should be removed, and the CBA has lots of language that is negative to the players. So I wanted to discuss a few of these points. Continue reading Guaranteed Salary, Short Term Contract and Other CBA Ramblings »

2019 Compensatory Draft Picks Update (5/8/2018)

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.

There is a bit of the changing of the guard in the teams seen in this year’s list. A few stalwarts like New England, Baltimore and Cincinnati remain prominent, but others like Green Bay, Denver, Seattle, and Pittsburgh are starkly missing. In their place are some teams with notable circumstances within 2018 free agency: the Los Angeles Rams (who like New England are on track to get two 3rd round comp picks), Minnesota (who saw three quarterbacks leave in free agency), Philadelphia (a major sleeper on pursuing comp picks, as I’ll explain below) and Washington (who, despite their hard earned reputation of being big time UFA spenders, are poised to break the longest active regular comp pick drought. The last time they got one was 2009, a 7th rounder that was used to draft Marko Mitchell.)

Also notable is that this could be the first year under the current CBA that getting a seven figure APY is required to qualify for the compensatory formula. Currently, Geno Smith, at $1 million even, is on the bubble of qualifying, and with him out of consideration (as is likely unless something disastrous happens to the durable Philip Rivers) it opens up a 7th rounder to the Chargers for either Kenny Wiggins or Matt Slauson, and also takes off the board a 4th rounder to the Giants for either Weston Richburg or Justin Pugh.

Notable cases

There are two players that, despite being listed as Unrestricted Free Agents in the official press release, I am guessing will not qualify for the compensatory formula. They are Donald Stephenson, going from Denver to Cleveland, and Derrick Johnson, going from Kansas City to Oakland. This is because both Stephenson and Johnson had their contracts shortened by renegotiating voids in their 2018 year in exchange for taking pay pay cuts in 2017. This is unfortunate for both the Broncos and Chiefs, as it will negatively impact their comp pick ledgers. For Denver, if Stephenson counted it would open up a 7th rounder for Corey Nelson (although he would be unlikely to make the 32-pick limit). Otherwise, it will end the Broncos’ four year streak of obtaining or being eligible compensatory picks–unless Brock Osweiler somehow becomes the Dolphins’ starting quarterback for most to all of 2018. The Chiefs, however, are projected to get a 6th or 7th rounder for Terrence Mitchell as of now, but if Johnson qualified they would likely get another 6th or 7th rounder for him as well.

The other unusual case involves Mike Wallace, going from Baltimore to Philadelphia. As I mentioned above, the Eagles are a team that have been largely ignored in recent comp pick studies, but historically this is mistaken to do so. From 2004 to 2011, the Eagles got multiple comp picks in six of those eight drafts, and were second only to Baltimore in the most total comp picks awarded. Howie Roseman was a high level executive with the team during those times, and looking at how he’s crafted some of his CFA signings, there are signs that he just as determined as Ozzie Newsome, Bill Belichick, or John Elway in manipulating the comp pick system.

This brings us back to Wallace. Early reports had his Eagles’ deal as one year and “up to” $4 million. However, it was soon discovered that there was plenty of funny money in that deal. $2.085 million of that $4 million are in Likely To Be Earned incentives, and among the most laughable was a $585,000 weight bonus to be earned by reporting to offseason workouts under 250 pounds. It’s laughable because Wallace, a wide receiver, has consistently played at a relatively svelte 200 pounds. But the comp pick formula shines insight on this unusual bonus, as it’s established that weight bonuses do not count. (See Terrance Knighton demoting a comp pick for Denver in 2016.)

But it doesn’t end there. Wallace’s $1 million signing bonus is actually an OATSB–Other Amount Treated As Signing Bonus. OTC also believes that this OATSB is a guaranteed workout bonus. Although it’s unclear how the comp pick formula will judge such a payment, it has been very consistent in not counting workout bonuses of any kind. Because there are many signs suggesting that the Eagles are manipulating the formula with Wallace’s contract, I’m therefore guessing that this $1 million will not count either. If that guess is correct, all that’s left to count is Wallace’s veteran minimum base salary of $915,000, and while he could still qualify if he plays enough snaps, currently that’s not enough to break the current qualification limit of $1 million.

The end result? If Wallace does not qualify, as I have it so right now, it opens up an additional 6th rounder to Philadelphia for Patrick Robinson, and it potentially costs Baltimore a 7th for Wallace.

TeamRoundCompensated Free AgentAPY
WAS3Kirk Cousins$28,000,000
MIN3Case Keenum$18,000,000
LAR3Sammy Watkins$15,830,000
NE3Nate Solder$15,400,000
LAR3Trumaine Johnson$14,500,000
CAR3Andrew Norwell$13,000,000
NE3Malcolm Butler$12,170,000
BAL4Ryan Jensen$10,500,000
IND4Donte Moncrief$9,600,000
DAL4Anthony Hitchens$8,838,000
ATL4Dontari Poe$8,533,333
PHI4Trey Burton$7,925,000
WAS5Spencer Long$6,850,000
ATL5Taylor Gabriel$6,500,000
DET5D.J. Hayden$6,333,333
MIN6Teddy Bridgewater$5,500,000
WAS6Ryan Grant$5,000,000
PHI6Beau Allen$5,000,000
NE6Dion Lewis$4,950,000
PHI6Patrick Robinson$4,925,000
WAS6Terrelle Pryor$4,500,000
CIN6Andre Smith$4,000,000
CIN6AJ McCarron$3,950,000
CIN6Chris Smith$3,900,000
CAR6Ed Dickson$3,566,667
KC6Terrance Mitchell$3,233,333
MIN7Tramaine Brock$3,000,000
ARI7Jaron Brown$2,750,000
NE7Cameron Fleming$2,500,000
LAC7Kenny Wiggins$2,500,000
LAR7Cody Davis$2,500,000
MIN7Shamar Stephen$2,100,000
Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded
ARI7Blaine Gabbert$2,000,000
ARI7Matt Barkley$1,400,000
LAR7Derek Carrier$1,275,000
ARI7Earl Watford$1,250,000
SF7Tank Carradine$1,150,000
IND7Frank Gore$1,105,000
SF7Leon Hall$1,060,000
SF7Logan Paulsen$1,005,000

Names to watch in training camp

For the next few months, the most important thing to watch for with regard to 2019 compensatory picks is if any CFAs fail to make and stay on their team’s roster. If any CFA is permanently cut from their team’s roster before Week 10, they will not qualify for the compensatory formula. Using a little intuition, there are some teams that could feasibly improve their standing in 2018 compensatory picks if they cut certain players, and other teams that need to hope that certain teams don’t cut some of their former players.

Teams with CFAs signed
  • Dallas: The Cowboys currently have only one comp pick on the board, a 4th for Anthony Hitchens. However, none of the three low level CFAs they signed (Kony Ealy, Cameron Fleming, and Deonte Thompson) have guarantees larger than $1 million. If Dallas cuts any to all of them, they could pick up a maximum of an extra 6th round and two 7th round comp picks.
  • New York Giants: They are currently even with five CFAs each lost and gained. Of the five they gained, Michael Thomas and Cody Latimer could be the most vulnerable to being cut for comp pick reasons. It will not be cheap to cut either: Thomas was guaranteed $1.5 million, and almost all of Latimer’s $2.5 million was guaranteed. But if they cut one of the two before Week 10, it would open up a 4th rounder for one of Weston Richburg or Justin Pugh, and if they cut both it would open up an additional 5th or 6th for Devon Kennard. (Cutting Latimer would also end any scant hope the Broncos have to continue their comp pick streak.)
  • Detroit: They currently have one 5th round comp pick for DJ Hayden on the board. But the Lions could get a second 5th rounder for Tahir Whitehead if they cut one of their lower valued CFAs. Among those, Kenny Wiggins should feel the least secure for a roster spot, given that Detroit just drafted Frank Ragnow in the first round. Wiggins has only $750,000 in full guarantees, so it will be quite cheap for the Lions to move on from him if they so choose.
  • Seattle: Some regular comp pick seekers, like Green Bay and Denver, simply didn’t lose enough valuable CFAs to make it worth it to go after comp picks this year. But I’m having a hard time understanding how the Seahawks approached free agency this year. As I anticipated, the Seahawks lost high valued CFAs in Jimmy Graham, Sheldon Richardson, and Paul Richardson–all currently valued as 4th rounders. But Seattle instead signed 7 CFAs of their own, taking them way out of contention to earn any of those 4th rounders. Of those seven, they could cut four of them (Dontae Johnson, DJ Fluker, Tom Johnson, and Shamar Stephen) with little consequence, as all have guarantees at or below $1 million. But that’s not the case for the other three (Ed Dickson, Barkevious Mingo, and Jaron Brown). This year, it seems clear that John Schneider is taking an educated gamble that the CFAs he signed will be worth more than the 4th round comp picks he could have otherwise received via the Seahawks’ usual modus operandi in free agency.
Teams with CFAs lost
  • Baltimore: Ben Watson will turn 38 during the 2018 season, and the Saints only guaranteed $645,000 of his contract. If Watson fails to make the roster or decides to call it a career before the regular season, and Mike Wallace doesn’t qualify, it would jeopardize the Ravens’ 3rd or 4th round comp pick for Ryan Jensen.
  • Los Angeles Chargers: As mentioned above with Detroit, if Kenny Wiggins fails to make the roster, it will take the Chargers out of comp pick contention. They may also have to fear the same with Matt Slauson, who will now have to compete with 1st and 2nd round rookies Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith alongside incumbent Jack Mewhort for a starting job at guard.
  • Detroit: While the Lions could gain a comp pick, they could also lose the one they have now. Don Carey and Travis Swanson have minimal amounts of guaranteed money in their deals with the Jaguars and Jets, and if either fail to stick around then the Lions’ 5th rounder for DJ Hayden will have no choice but to come off the board.
  • Minnesota: With the Jets drafting Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater’s roster spot is by no means safe. If he’s cut, the Vikings will see their 6th for him be demoted to a 7th for either Tom Johnson or Shamar Stephen. And speaking of those two, as described above Seattle may have their own comp pick reasons to cut them–that could potentially take comp picks off the board. (Fortunately for Minnesota, their 3rd rounder for Case Keenum should be as solid as they come.)
  • Atlanta: They will have to hope that Andre Roberts not only makes the Jets’ roster, but also qualifies for the formula. If he doesn’t, that could jeopardize their 5th rounder for Taylor Gabriel. They could rectify that by in turn cutting or benching Logan Paulsen, on the same salary as Roberts.
  • Carolina: Charles Johnson is another Jets receiver who could impact comp picks if he doesn’t make their roster. In Carolina’s case, they would lose a 6th rounder for Ed Dickson.