Projecting The 2021 Compensatory Picks

This article refers specifically to OTC’s projection for the 2021 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, of which, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, are awarded separately.

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

The Projection

TeamRoundCompensated DepartureAPY
NE3Tom Brady$27,375,000
LAC3Philip Rivers$25,000,000
NO3Teddy Bridgewater$21,000,000
DAL3Byron Jones$16,500,000
TEN3Jack Conklin$14,000,000
LAR3Dante Fowler Jr.$15,000,000
DAL4Robert Quinn$14,000,000
NE4Kyle Van Noy$12,750,000
LAR4Cory Littleton$11,750,000
PIT4Javon Hargrave$13,000,000
GB4Blake Martinez$10,250,000
MIN4Trae Waynes$14,000,000
KC4Kendall Fuller$10,000,000
NE4Jamie Collins$10,000,000
GB5Bryan Bulaga$10,000,000
DAL5Randall Cobb$9,000,000
KC5Emmanuel Ogbah$7,500,000
ATL5Vic Beasley$9,500,000
SF5Emmanuel Sanders$8,000,000
ATL5De’Vondre Campbell$7,000,000
BAL5Michael Pierce$9,000,000
CAR5Vernon Butler$7,625,000
TB5Breshad Perriman$6,500,000
ATL6Wes Schweitzer$4,500,000
CHI6Nicholas Williams$5,000,000
PHI6Jordan Howard$4,875,000
GB6Kyler Fackrell$4,600,000
MIN6Mackensie Alexander$4,000,000
CAR6Daryl Williams$3,350,000
CHI6Chase Daniel$4,350,000
PIT6Sean Davis$4,000,000
DAL6Jeff Heath$3,375,000
Compensation over 34-pick limit; not awarded
PHI6Ronald Darby$3,000,000
CHI6Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix$3,750,000
PIT6Tyler Matakevich$3,575,000
TB6Beau Allen$3,500,000
CHI6Kevin Pierre-Louis$3,000,000
ATL7Adrian Clayborn$2,875,000
PHI7Kamu Grugier-Hill$3,000,000
MIN7Andrew Sendejo$2,250,000
IND7Devin Funchess$2,500,000
NE7Elandon Roberts$2,125,000
IND7Joe Haeg$2,300,000
MIN7Jayron Kearse$2,000,000
BAL7Patrick Onwuasor$2,000,000

Note that although there are 45 eligible compensatory picks listed in this projection, 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.

Typically, the official release comes out on the Friday before the NFL Scouting Combine. However, since a traditional combine will highly likely not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be no reliable date to expect this release. Thus, expect the release to be some time after the Super Bowl (February 7) but before the start of free agency (March 17).

New Challenges

Last year was my most successful projection, correctly identifying all eligible compensatory picks to each team, and being off by one round on only three picks. However, this year I do not expect to be anywhere near close to that accurate, due to significant changes in the compensatory formula, as well as sui generis factors due to the pandemic.

Changes from the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement

The 2020 CBA revealed, via Appendix V, how the compensatory formula is governed. Notable explicit changes and revelations are as follows:

  • Per game roster bonuses now count in full. In the past, such bonuses declared not likely to be earned (NLTBE) may not have consistently counted.
  • Workout bonuses, weight bonuses, incentives, and escalators will count if they are either ones earned in the first year of the player’s contract, or are considered likely to be earned (LTBE).
  • The only honors that are recognized are those awarded by the AP All-Pro and PFWA On-Field Awards lists–and their recognition is minimal.
  • Compensatory free agents (CFAs) must now rank in the top 35% of leaguewide players to qualify. Previously, this was 50%.
  • The restriction of compensation to the 5th round for players with 10 or more accrued seasons does not apply to quarterbacks. (This is highly relevant this year due to the presence of Tom Brady and Philip Rivers as CFAs, whose departures should award the top two comp picks.)
  • Players, even if they are otherwise considered Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) are no longer eligible to become CFAs if they did not complete the “Maximum Possible Term” of their contract. Specifically, this removes the ability of teams to get comp picks for players with declined options. The only exception to this new rule are for automatic void years for purposes of prorating cap dollars.
  • Players who sign Veteran Salary Benefit contracts are ineligible to become CFAs. (However, moving the percentile qualification to 35% likely makes this rule moot.)
  • Teams may now designate players as “Excluded UFAs” that disqualify them from being CFAs, so long as they are signed to one year deals for no more than $1.75 million. This projection assumes that all such players were designated as such.

In addition, there are a few changes not explicitly written but may be implicit:

  • Appendix V makes no mention of the previous rule of players being disqualified from being CFAs if they were cut in their first season before Week 10, or before they accrued 10 weeks on the roster. This omission is believed to imply that this rule has been abolished, and thus once a CFA is signed, he will remain a CFA.
  • While Appendix V explicitly says that the period for signings counting in the compensatory formula ends on the Monday following the NFL Draft, this may also include signings that were agreed upon in principle before that date, even if they were officially signed after.

Changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic

In addition to these long term changes in the CBA, on August 3, 2020 the owners and players agreed to a short term agreement that alters operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those changes included a Reserve/COVID-19 list where players were placed upon should they have contracted the virus, or been in close contact with someone who has contracted it, and also included an opt-out mechanism for players who did not want to play during the pandemic.

This agreement made no mention of how it would affect the compensatory formula, so we are left to try to piece that part of the puzzle for ourselves:

  • The first question would be whether players who opted out, of which included a few key CFAs, would still count in the compensatory formula. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic reports that the answer is yes. Additionally, it is reasonable to speculate that such players, since they didn’t play, will receive no boost in their ranking from snap counts.
  • There is also the question of whether players who were on the Reserve/COVID-19 list will count as players in the number of leaguewide players CFAs are judged against. Appendix V says that number is “all players on rosters at the conclusion of a regular season”. Typically, this appears to include players that are on reserve lists, of which Reserve/COVID-19 is one of them. However, if they are not counted, it would change the cutoffs for each round and for CFA qualification, and potentially the awarded comp picks themselves.

Cutoff Projections

On that note, let’s address that most difficult part of projecting the compensatory picks–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 2020 regular season, OTC’s database identified a total of 2,158 players that were either on the active roster or reserve lists. This number includes 64 players that were on the Reserve/COVID-19 list at that time. If 2,158 is an accurate number, this is what the cutoffs would look like:

RoundPercentileOverall RankRepresentative Player
3rd/4th95th (top 5%)109Derrick Henry
4th/5th90th (top 10%)217Rob Gronkowski
5th/6th85th (top 15%)325Saquon Barkley
6th/7th75th (top 25%)541DJ Moore
7th/Qualify65th (top 35%)756Christian Kirk

However, if the Reserve COVID/19 players are not counted, the number would be 2,094, and the cutoffs would look like this:

RoundPercentileOverall RankRepresentative Player
3rd/4th95th (top 5%)106Eric Fisher
4th/5th90th (top 10%)210Alex Mack
5th/6th85th (top 15%)315Laken Tomlinson
6th/7th75th (top 25%)525Derek Wolfe
7th/Qualify65th (top 35%)734Andy Janovich

The difference is subtle, but in a few cases may change the projection of certain 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.

3rd/4th

  • Dante Fowler (Los Angeles Rams): #93
  • Possible projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #106
  • Possible projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #109
  • Robert Quinn (Dallas): #118
  • Kyle Van Noy (New England): #120

4th/5th

  • Jamie Collins (New England): #194
  • Possible projected 4th/5th cutoff: #210
  • Possible projected 4th/5th cutoff: #217

5th/6th

  • Vernon Butler (Carolina): #296
  • Breshad Perriman (Tampa Bay): #302
  • Possible projected 5th/6th cutoff: #315
  • AJ Klein (New Orleans): #322
  • Possible projected 5th/6th cutoff: #325
  • Maliek Collins (Dallas): #326

6th/7th

  • Ted Karras (New England): #492
  • Jeff Heath (Philadelphia): #497
  • Ronald Darby (Philadelphia): #499
  • Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (Chicago): #510
  • Tyler Matakevich (Pittsburgh): #519
  • Adrian Phillips (San Angeles): #520
  • Beau Allen (Tampa Bay): #524
  • Possible projected 6th/7th cutoff: #525
  • Derek Wolfe (Denver): #531
  • Kevin Pierre-Lewis: #539
  • Possible projected 6th/7th cutoff: #541
  • Greg Zuerlein: #544
  • Derek Watt (Pittsburgh): #549
  • Xavier Su’a-Filo (Dallas): #562
  • Kamu Grugier-Hill: #585

7th/Qualifying

  • Jayron Kearse (Minnesota): #719
  • Nate Ebner (New England): #722
  • Patrick Onwuasor (Baltimore): #723
  • Possible projected 7th/Qualifying cutoff: #734
  • Possible projected 7th/Qualifying cutoff: #756

Qualifying/Valuation Questions

As mentioned above, CFAs who were cut before the regular season ended are believed to still remain CFAs in the compensatory formula. But just in case, those specific players this year were Gerald McCoy, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Sean Davis, Seth Roberts, Vic Beasley, and Jordan Howard.

Similarly, it is believed that players who opted out of the 2020 season will also count in the formula. The only two relevant CFAs in this group would be Michael Pierce and Devin Funchess.

On top of all this, the most unusual contract signed this offseason for purposes of CFA qualification was that of Jameis Winston. I’ll quote what I said back in April on this subject:

Most would have guessed that even as a backup quarterback, Winston would sign a contract that would be CFA eligible, provided he signed before April 27. On April 26, Charles Robinson reported that Winston was finalizing a contract with the Saints. Soon after, Katherine Terrell, the Saints reporter for The Athletic, said that the deal would not be officially processed until after the comp pick deadline passed. However, by the end of the day, Greg Auman, also at The Athletic reporting on the Bucs, said that teams aren’t allowed to circumvent this deadline, thus that Winston might qualify anyway even if the official processing was after April 27.

Proof of this may reside in the NFL’s two official transaction wires on April 28. On the AM wire, it contained a long list of UFAs that did not receive the UFA Tender from their former teams, and “[a]s a result, such players are not compensable free agents under the Compensatory Draft System.” However, Winston, as well as a few other players, were not on this list. Then, on the PM wire, while there were dozens of free agent signings listed, Winston was one of three players listed in a separate subsection as signed under the “Free Agency System Signings”.

In my opinion, this is strong evidence to suggest that the NFL Management Council is declaring that Winston will be a CFA on the basis of the deadline. If so, that’s potentially a blow against the Saints, who would lose a 6th rounder for the departure of AJ Klein, with the signing of Winston canceling out that departure. It would also raise questions on how the NFL Management Council would come to this conclusion. Had the Saints and Winston kept negotiations secret until after April 27 at 4 PM ET, would they have secured that Winston wouldn’t have qualified as a CFA?

However, there’s another wrinkle that may still disqualify Winston from becoming a CFA. That is that he signed for far less than most expected. According to Field Yates, the base value of Winston’s contract is $1.1 million, which is far too low to qualify on its own. But $3.4 million in incentives were also part of the contract. Under the new CBA, incentives that are considered Likely To Be Earned count in the compensatory formula. Tom Pelissero later reported the breakdown of his incentives: based on playtime in both the regular season and playoffs, and the Pro Bowl. Since in 2019 the Bucs did not make the playoffs and Winston was not named to the Pro Bowl, those incentives will be NLTBE. However, since Winston played over 99% of the snaps in 2019, there’s a good chance that the $1.76 million incentive for regular season playtime will be LTBE. If that is correct, Winston’s APY for comp pick purposes would be $2.86 million, and even if he didn’t play a snap in 2020, that should be enough for him to qualify as a CFA.

Possible Altering Scenarios

  • Baltimore
    • If Seth Roberts and Patrick Onwuasor qualify, and Derek Wolfe’s contract is valued as a 7th rounder, Baltimore will get a 6th for Roberts.
  • Carolina
    • If Vernon Butler’s contract is valued in the 6th round, Carolina will get a 6th for Greg Van Roten instead of a 5th for Butler.
  • Dallas
    • If Maliek Collins’s contract is valued in the 5th round, Dallas will get a 5th for him instead of a 6th for Jeff Heath.
    • If Maliek Collins’s contract is valued in the 6th round, and the contracts of Jeff Heath, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, and Greg Zuerlein are valued in the 7th round, Dallas will get a higher 6th for Jason Witten.
    • If the contracts of Maliek Collins, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, and Greg Zuerlein are all valued in the 6th round, Dallas will not get a 6th for Jeff Heath, and an eligible 7th for Xavier Su’a-Filo will not make the 32 pick limit.
  • New England
    • If one of the contracts of either Adrian Phillips or Beau Allen are valued in the 7th round, and Ted Karras’s contract is valued in the 6th round, New England will get a 6th for Karras.
    • If the contracts of both Adrian Phillips and Beau Allen are valued in the 7th round, New England will get a 6th for Danny Shelton.
  • New Orleans
    • If Jameis Winston does not qualify, New Orleans will get a 5th or a 6th for AJ Klein.
  • Pittsburgh
    • If Derek Watt’s contract is valued in the 6th round, Pittsburgh will not get a 6th for Sean Davis, and an eligible 7th for Nick Vannett will not make the 32 pick limit.
  • Tampa Bay
    • If Jameis Winston does not qualify, Tampa Bay will not be eligible for any comp pick for Beau Allen in any scenario.
    • If Jameis Winston qualifies but Beau Allen’s contract is valued in the 7th round, Tampa Bay will not be eligible for a comp pick for Allen, and instead be eligible for a 7th for Winston that will not make the 32 pick limit.

The Potential Pay Raises From Potential 2020 Pro Bowl Honors

The Pro Bowl is a fickle award, in multiple ways:

  • It is, of course, an entirely subjective award, determined from the opinions of the players, coaches, and fans.
  • The number of players per position it awards is not a perfect match to the field–for example, there are as many quarterbacks and running backs named as there are safeties, even though there are usually more safeties on the field.
  • It is divided by conference, meaning some great players can get denied the honor if their conference has much tougher competition at their position than the other conference.
  • And some position designations are antiquated–particularly for edge rushers, who are at the whim of their coordinator’s scheme of whether they’re designated defensive ends or linebackers, and the differing competition they could have as a result.

When individual contracts are negotiated, occasionally there are Pro Bowl incentives or escalators, but it’s more common to see more objective metrics such as yardage, touchdowns, negative plays on defense, snap counts, or postseason play. However, despite some of the issues listed above, the 2020 CBA unusually implemented leaguewide Pro Bowl escalators in standardized contracts.

There are two situations in the CBA where an original ballot (not as an alternate) Pro Bowl honor could result in a raise in salary:

  • Article 7, Section 4(e)(iv) creates a new tier of Proven Performance Escalator that can raise the salary of a player drafted outside of the first round to the value of the 2nd round restricted free agent tender.
  • Article 7, Section 7(g)(iii-iv) calls for fifth year options on first round rookie contracts to equate to the transition tag if named to a Pro Bowl once in their first three seasons, and to the franchise tag for two or three.

This article will take a look at some of the players that could see notable raises in their salaries should they earn an original ballot Pro Bowl, grouped by conference and position. All numbers used are OTC’s estimates for the fifth year options for the 2018 first round picks, and for the franchise, transition, and RFA tenders.

AFC Quarterback

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Baker MayfieldFifth Year Option$18,281,000$21,206,000$2,925,000
Josh AllenFifth Year Option$18,281,000$21,206,000$2,925,000
Lamar JacksonFifth Year Option$21,206,000$23,511,000$2,305,000

Patrick Mahomes should have one spot locked down. Deshaun Watson should be favored for another in spite of the Texans’ general 2020 struggles. Jackson, the MVP last season, could defend his Pro Bowl spot despite a third season that hasn’t met the lofty heights of his second. If he doesn’t, could Mayfield or Allen break into the group, given their teams’ overall success this season? Prime competition could come from Ryan Tannehill, Mahomes’s replacement in the last Pro Bowl, and the reputation of Ben Roethlisberger can’t be counted out given the Steelers’ successful season, despite some struggles in his most recent games.

AFC Wide Receiver

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
AJ BrownFourth Year Salary$1,265,778$3,593,100$2,327,322
DJ CharkFourth Year Salary$2,240,000$3,422,000$1,182,000

Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill should be locks for half of the spots here, but things open up a bit after them, particularly after Will Fuller’s suspension. Brown in particular should have a good chance given the Titans’ general success. Chark had a 1,000 yard season last year, but reduced numbers from a mightily struggling Jaguars team may shut off his last chance of getting a higher PPE raise.

NFC Wide Receiver

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
DJ MooreFifth Year Option$18,281,000$21,206,000$2,925,000
Calvin RidleyFifth Year Option$18,281,000$21,206,000$2,925,000
DK MetcalfFourth Year Salary$2,602,000$3,593,100$991,000
Terry McLaurinFourth Year Salary$2,602,000$3,593,100$991,000
Justin JeffersonFifth Year OptionTBDTBDTBD

Competition here is expected to be very fierce. DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams have the history that will keep their odds high, but it is Metcalf that is leading the league in receiving yards, while Jefferson, Ridley and McLaurin just joined the 1,000 yard club, with Moore not too far behind in the 900s. This will be the last chance for Moore and Ridley to take advantage of a Pro Bowl pay raise, as they are part of the 2018 rookie class, but Metcalf and McLaurin will have another shot as 2019 members, and Jefferson, of course, is a rookie.

AFC Offensive Tackle

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Braden SmithFourth Year Salary$2,490,000$3,422,000$932,000
Orlando Brown, Jr.Fourth Year Salary$2,490,000$3,422,000$932,000

Injuries to Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Lewan, and Mitchell Schwartz have left spots here very open. Of the two, Brown will have the likely edge due to his previous appointment as an alternate in last year’s Pro Bowl, although peers like Anthony Castonzo are pounding the table for Smith. Other newcomers that could provide competition are Garett Bolles (recently signed to an extension with the Broncos) and Dion Dawkins, while past Pro Bowlers like Laremy Tunsil, Alejandro Villanueva, and Eric Fisher also loom large.

NFC Offensive Guard

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Alex CappaFourth Year Salary$2,240,000$3,422,000$1,182,000

Cappa is a name that may not be as familiar as others mentioned here, but as of December 3rd he has found his way to the top of the fan voting at this spot, so he’s worth a mention considering that this is his last chance to seal the top PPE raise.

NFC Center

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Erik McCoyFourth Year Salary$2,602,000$3,593,100$991,000

Travis Frederick’s retirement leaves one of the two center spots here wide open. Could McCoy, playing on a good Saints team, be the benefactor and hold off stalwarts like Alex Mack and Jason Kelce?

NFC Defensive Tackle

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Vita VeaFifth Year Option$7,080,000$11,121,000$4,041,000
Da’Ron PayneFifth Year Option$8,282,000$11,121,000$2,839,000

Aaron Donald will of course be a lock for one of the three spots here. Fletcher Cox is another regular here but he is on a struggling Eagles team this season. Vea and Payne are both part of fierce defensive fronts in Tampa Bay and Washington, and as 2018 first rounders this is their final shot of getting their fifth year options pushed up to the transition tag level.

AFC Outside Linebacker (Edge Rusher)

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Bradley ChubbFifth Year Option$10,074,000$13,071,000$2,997,000

Chubb, as the fifth overall pick by the Broncos in the 2018 NFL Draft, could take advantage of the fact that most of the leading AFC edge rushers (Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa) are considered defensive ends. Among those that are considered linebackers, TJ Watt of course will be the leading candidate. But with Watt’s teammate Bud Dupree having the great misfortune of tearing his ACL while on the franchise tag, it is now Chubb who is at least tied for the next spot behind Watt in sacks and tackles for loss. If Chubb does get his first Pro Bowl, he would replace another injured teammate in Von Miller, who of course has been a regular here for many seasons.

AFC Inside Linebacker

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Tremaine EdmundsFifth Year Option$10,074,000$13,071,000$2,997,000

Edmunds made his way to participating in the last Pro Bowl as an alternate. With the player he replaced, Dont’a Hightower, opting out of the season, Edmunds could be a natural replacement for Hightower again, but this time on the original ballot.

NFC Inside Linebacker

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Roquan SmithFifth Year Option$10,074,000$13,071,000$2,997,000
Fred WarnerFourth Year Salary$2,490,000$3,422,000$932,000

Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly have long dominated the two available spots here, but now with Kuechly retired there is room for younger blood. Could this include Smith or Warner, who have been regarded well but have yet to make the break up to the Pro Bowl tier?

AFC Safety

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Minkah FitzpatrickFifth Year Option$9,312,000$10,916,000$1,604,000

Fitzpatrick earned his first Pro Bowl bid last season that already boosted his fifth year option considerably, and he should be a favorite to repeat the honor to boost that salary further up.

AFC Cornerback

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Denzel WardFifth Year Option$12,869,000$14,878,000$1,604,000

Like Fitzpatrick, Ward will be trying to add a second Pro Bowl in his first three seasons to secure this raise. Unlike Fitzpatrick, Ward should have stiffer competition from his peers for these spots, as the defending honorees from last season have all been active and playing typical to their performance.

NFC Cornerback

PlayerSalary TypeCurrent SalaryPotential SalaryPotential Raise
Jaire AlexanderFifth Year Option$9,893,000$12,869,000$2,976,000
Carlton DavisFourth Year Salary$2,490,000$3,422,000$932,000

Tough competition for these spots could make it difficult to Alexander to get this raise in his last chance before the fifth year option values are determined. Among that competition is Davis, who like Cappa has been bolstered by leading the fan vote.

The Worst Contracts in the NFL

Every week I get a number of tweets about certain players who people believe have the worst contracts in the NFL so by request I figured I would do a post with my selections for the worst contracts in the NFL. Many of the selections here are pure hindsight analysis, unlike when I occasionally do best and worst selections for each team, and in many cases the contracts are fine from the standpoint of the market at the time- they have just blown up badly for the team since signing the contract.  Some of the players hit both being a bad signing before and after the contract and Ill try to point out where that is the case, but I just wanted to get it out of the way that it’s a hindsight list in the event someone wants to defend the contract simply because it wasnt that bad when signed. Im sure on a different day I may have some different names on here as well as the NFL is filled with some bad ones, but today this is the way I leaned, so without further ado…

25. Christian Kirksey, LB, Packers
$6.5M/year, $8M 2021 cap hit, $2M to cut

I get the fact that the Packers got trounced last year by the 49ers running game in the playoffs but they could have done better than this couldn’t they?  Kirksey missed 9 games in 2018 and 14 games in 2019. Should it have come as any surprise when he landed on IR after 6 games this year? This is money that could have gone to someone with much more of a chance of impacting the Packers this year. On the bright side they can get out of the deal next year at a relatively low cost.

24. Randall Cobb, WR, Texans
$9M/year, $10.6M 2021 cap hit, $12.3M to cut

Did anyone see this contract coming when Cobb signed this?  I know I certainly did not. While he had a nice bounce back year with Dallas in 2019 the facts were that Cobb had missed 11 games from 2016 to 2019 and only had one season over 600 yards. The Texans really went all in here guaranteeing Cobb the first two years of a three year contract. Those two years total about $19M which could have instead been used to find a solution to their contract dilemma with DeAndre Hopkins.

23. Golden Tate, WR, Giants
$9.4M/year, $10.8M 2021 cap hit, $4.7M to cut

Nothing about this contract made sense when the team signed it. Tate was coming off an invisible finish with the Eagles, he was over 30, and the Giants should have been looking to get younger but somehow the Giants wound up doing this deal. Tate was suspended by the NFL before the ink was even dry on the contract though he did finish the year with 676 yards. He was an afterthought for the team this year, being deactivated and sent to the scout team at one point. Tate has just 306 receiving yards on the year and it almost certain to be released next year.

22. Jadeveon Clowney, Edge, Titans
$13M/year, 2021 Free Agent

I can understand why the Titans made this signing. It was access to an elite level athlete who was once the top pick in the NFL draft, but what competition really existed? While stories were floated out there about interest those came across as agents trying to drum up interest in a client as Clowney sat on the sidelines until September trying to find a team to meet whatever salary demands he had. Clowney’s injury history was well known- he played 16 games once in a six year career- and he has never provided the type of impact that teams cherish. He had just 3 sacks with the Seahawks last year and wound up with a total of 0 sacks with the Titans this year before being shut down after 8 games. On the bright side for the Titans at least it was just a one year gamble.

21. Adam Humphries, WR, Titans
$9M/year, $9.75M 2021 cap hit, $5M to cut

Humphries career arc worked out perfect for him by peaking in his walk year in playing time (70%), receptions (76), and yards (816). He was able to parlay that success into a four year, $36 million contract with the Titans where he pretty much filed from day 1 to find a role. He’s missed 8 games in two years because of injury and wound up playing 38% of the snaps last year and is under 30% this year. Humphries has 593 yards in two years nowhere near close enough to justify the $9M a year he has cost the Titans.

20. Anthony Barr, LB, Vikings
$13.5M/year, $15M 2021 cap hit, $7.8M to cut

This was an example where both sides of a marriage agreed to a divorce but then when it came time to sign the papers decided to reconcile and give it another try only to find that divorce was the best option. Barr has been a non-factor for the Vikings amassing 54 tackles last year while missing 14 games this year with a torn pec. This is really the contract decision that started to mess up the Vikings salary cap as they would have had a cheaper and better structured deal with Barr had they just extended him in 2018. It made little sense to go back to him last year and they have to hope he is healthy next March so they can cut him before his salary becomes guaranteed.

19. AJ Green, WR, Bengals
$18.2M/year, 2021 Free Agent

This contract was a decision that was driven by the heart rather than the head. Green had a run where he may have been the best WR in the NFL, but those days were long gone when the team decided to tag Green. Green missed 6 games in 2016, 7 games in 2018, and 16 games in 2019 and to expect him to come back after all that time missed at the age of 32 was a dream. Green may wear the same number but doesn’t resemble the WR he once was. Green has 357 yards and 1 TD in 11 games this year and is one of the least efficient targets in the league.

18. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
$27.5M/year, $26.9M 2021 cap hit, $2.8M to cut

This is one of those contracts that never made any sense when it was signed. Garoppolo had a grand total of 7 starts and a bit of an injury history when the 49ers signed this contract, despite having the franchise tag at their disposal, making Jimmy G the highest paid player in the NFL. While the 49ers structured the deal wisely by taking a massive $37M cap hit in the first year of the contract and putting in late vesting dates its hard to take a victory lap for that when you didn’t utilize those dates this year to find a viable QB. In three years Garoppolo has cost the 49ers about $83.6M on the cap. He has played just 25 games in 3 seasons, averaging about 230 yards a game and handing the ball off a lot to stable of running backs. While the dead money is reasonable next year it’s only because the 49ers took so much of that hit early in the contract.

17. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
$16M/year, $12.5M 2021 cap hit, $24.9M to cut

McCaffrey was awesome for my fantasy team in 2019 but didn’t make that kind of impact on a team that finished 5-11 and wound up firing their coach in the middle of the season. McCaffrey threatened to hold out in the offseason and you know how the story goes. Even though he had two years remaining on the contract the Panthers “had no choice” but to sign him to a contract that made him the highest priced player at the position in the NFL. McCaffrey followed it up with an injury plagued campaign which has seen him play in just 3 games and average 3.8 YPC, essentially the same stat line as journeyman Mike Davis who took over for the injured star. Had the Panthers held firm McCaffrey would be in line for an $8.4M salary in 2021 with no chance of getting a deal like he received. Instead the team will have paid him an additional $19.25M for 3 games in 2020 and whatever they get from him in 2021. If I have Panthers fans asking me about his contract midway through next year then things will have really gone off the rails.

16. Kwon Alexander, LB, Saints
$13.5M/year, $13.4M 2021 cap hit, $0 to cut

While this contract is labelled Saints it falls on the 49ers who paid Alexander nearly $24M for 13 games. Alexander had an extensive injury history prior to signing this contract with the 49ers, missing 18 games in his four year career with the Bucs, including 10 games missed in the year prior to free agency. I guess things could have been worse for San Francisco who wound up finding a trade partner to at least pass off around $3 million of the contract burden. The 49ers have had worse deals than this one but this was the one contract that had no justification when signed whereas the others just went bad over time.

15. David Johnson, RB, Texans
$13M/year, $9M 2021 cap hit, $2.1M to cut

Johnson is a member of the Texans but his contract was negotiated by the Cardinals and he only wound up with the Texans because of how inept the Texans decision making process was this offseason. Johnson’s contract is one that I understand given the expected changing contractual landscape at the position but these are the kind of contracts that drive me crazy. Johnson had exactly one year of production in Arizona and spent almost an entire year on the sidelines with injury when he looked for his new contract. The decision to enter into negotiations at that point was the big mistake and at least the Cardinals constructed a deal that they could fool a team into taking on. Since signing the contract Johnson has been relatively ineffective for two teams and has missed 7 games and counting over three years. Johnson left the Cardinals with a $6M parting gift and will likely leave the Texans with $2.1M in dead money next year too.

14. Nate Solder, LT, Giants
$15.5M/year, $16.5M 2021 cap hit, $10.5M to cut

Teams need to always be wary of players that leave the Patriots organization because so many of them fail outside of New England and Solder looked to be one of those players. Solder’s first two seasons with the Giants were poor enough that the Giants drafted a replacement for him this past year despite the big salary. Solder made the decision to opt out of the 2020 season which may have actually been good for the Giants who were probably going to pay out his full salary while finding a spot for him somewhere on the line. With a whole season of evaluating talent they will more than likely wind up cutting him and not having to pay that salary.

13. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals
$27.3M/year, $12.5M 2021 cap hit, $35.8M to cut

Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the NFL and his Hail Mary catch from a few weeks ago was one of the most amazing catches I’ve ever seen, however there is no justification for the extension the Cardinals gave Hopkins this offseason. The WR market had been relatively stagnant for years and 31 other teams were able to paint the $22M contract extension for Julio Jones as a wacky outlier that had no place in any contract discussions. The Cardinals blew past the Jones deal by $5m a year. There was no reason for Arizona not to get a deal done before trading for Hopkins and even if they didn’t do it the contract should not have come much over that Jones deal. I am pretty certain that if Hopkins did not get traded by the Texans he never would have come close to these numbers when discussing an extension with Houston so there is no reason for Arizona to have given in the way they did. This is arguably the most player friendly extension in the NFL and the only saving grace is that he is still a great player.

12. Laremy Tunsil, LT, Texans
$22M/year, $19.4M 2021 cap hit, $25.9M to cut

The last few months for the Texans were filled with questionable decisions but this contract extension ranked up there with the worst decisions. This is the fault of the Texans failing to negotiate an extension prior to a trade with the Miami Dolphins in 2019 and then feeling the pressure to sign their left tackle in the offseason rather than chance having to make a franchise tag decision between he and Deshaun Watson in 2022. Tunsil’s contract was $4 million a year more than the next closest tackle and the Texans only got 3 years of control on the extension. A few months later the Ravens wound up locking up a similar left tackle for under $20M a year on a contract that will run for five seasons.  

11. Jimmy Graham, TE, Bears
$8M/year, $10M 2021 cap hit, $3M to cut

I’m not sure how Graham keeps fooling teams into thinking he is a top tight end but he seems to do it year after year. For whatever reason teams seem to get enamored with those years with the Saints where Graham was basically a receiver masquerading a tight end and putting up over 1,000 yards a year except those teams forget that those seasons happened 8 years ago. Since then he has played with Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers and never came close to that kind of impact. Somehow the Bears thought that they had the key to unlock that talent with Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles. Graham has 334 yards and averages just 8.8 yards per catch.

10. Ja’Wuan James, RT, Broncos
$12.75M/year, $13M 2021 cap hit, $19M to cut

This contract was a bit of a surprise when the Broncos signed it as James had injury history and was a good but not great player. They wound up making him the highest paid pure right tackle in the NFL which was an odd decision to say the least. James made a brief appearance in 2019 playing in just 6% of the Broncos offensive snaps in an injury plagued year. This year he opted out due to Covid. I’m not sure if people even remember he is on the Broncos but his salary is guaranteed for next year so he will have some role on the team next year.

9. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
$32M/year, $34.7M 2021 cap hit, $59.2M to cut

I can’t explain the complete implosion of Wentz this year. He went from being a reasonable NFL starter to one of the bottom five in the NFL in the span of a few months. Our valuation metric puts Wentz at $23 million which for a healthy NFL QB is about as low as it gets. Wentz is one of those players where the contract was fine in relation to the market but now just looks like a catastrophe, similar to a situation that unfolded years ago with Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans. Wentz technically is only at the end of his rookie contract which ran through 2020 and there is no way to cut Wentz in 2021 without cutting him a massive check and carrying huge sums of dead money on the salary cap.  If the team fails to cut Wentz this offseason then he will also have his 2022 salary guaranteed. Wentz’ cap hitis the 5th largest in the NFL next year to boot. Basically this is the Todd Gurley contract on steroids. The only hope for the Eagles is to either trade Wentz (“only” a $33.8M charge on the cap) or to hope he magically remembers how to play QB in the last five weeks of the season.

8. CJ Mosley, LB, Jets
$17M/year, $7.5M 2021 cap hit, $20M to cut

This was a contract that came completely out of left field as the Jets signed the former Ravens linebacker to a massive five year contract with $43M fully guaranteed at signing and $51M that was virtually guaranteed from day 1. There was basically no justification for this contract within the market at the time and it’s gotten only worse since then. Mosley appeared in all of two games in 2019, missing 14 games due to a grossly mismanaged injury and then opted out of the 2020 season.  There is no problem with any player opting out but Mosley also made statements that he had to “find the flame again” to play football.  That should be a worry to anyone in the organization. Expect the Jets to try to find a trade partner to take on the remaining guarantees of this contract. If they did that it would only cost the Jets $6M on the cap, leaving the Jets with $29.15 million paid for those two games in 2019.

7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
$15M/year, $13.7M 2021 cap hit, $24.5M to cut

Elliott’s contract is the example of a bad decision that has just gotten worse each week of the 2020 season. As far as contracts go, once Dallas made the decision to invest in Elliott there wasn’t much more than can do with this but the decision itself is pretty much indefensible. Elliott is averaging under 65 yards a game this year, averages under 4 yards a carry, and has more fumbles than touchdowns. Dallas expected Zeke to somehow carry the offense once Dak Prescott was hurt but with the Cowboys offensive line in shambles his production hit the lowest point of his career. It will cost Dallas $24.5M to cut him next year and if they don’t walk away his entire 2022 salary becomes guaranteed. I don’t see much of a trade market here so basically Dallas is stuck until 2023 at which point they can cut him with $6.7M left on the salary cap.

6. Dee Ford, Edge, 49ers
$17M/year, $20.8M 2021 cap hit, $14.4M to cut

This is one of those contracts that I thought at the time of signing was a reasonable one. The 49ers didn’t get duped into the $20M a year contract range for a pass rusher and snuck in their usual per game bonuses and advantageous vesting dates but Ford was always an injury risk and he basically never plays football. In two years the 49ers have paid Ford nearly $35M for 12 games, 12 solo tackles and 6 sacks. Nobody forced the 49ers to restructure this contract in 2020 but they converted $12.7M to a bonus to deal with cap issues leaving them with a pretty big number to cut next year but its better than the alternative of paying him to miss football games.

5. Taysom Hill, QB(?), Saints
$10.5M/year, $16.2M 2021 cap hit, $11.2M to cut

Don’t let the annual value here fool you. The reality of this contract is that it was a one year contract worth about $16M with $12M in guarantees for someone who has mainly been a gadget player in the NFL. This contract reminds me of once talking up what I thought was a bad movie as goof to some friends to see if they would go watch it to somehow convincing myself to spend the money for me and my eventual wife to waste 90 minutes of our lives watching it. The Saints spent all offseason talking about how much they loved Hill that it seemed like a smokescreen designed to trade him until they quadrupled down on him with this deal. Hill has started two games this year for the Saints passing for 156 yards a game and no touchdowns. I don’t want to hear about the other things he brings to the game- he would basically be the highest paid running back in the NFL or the highest paid tight end in the NFL and nobody would even attempt to justify this contract if he was listed at either of those two positions.

4. Trae Waynes, CB, Bengals
$14M/year, $16M 2021 cap hit, $10M to cut

Injuries are hard luck in the NFL but Waynes isn’t ranking here simply because he has been hurt all year, he is ranking here because in what universe did the Bengals think it made sense to pay Waynes’ $20M in 2020? I think if someone ran an informal poll of 31 cap guys across the league nobody would have gone much over $10M for a one year prove it contract for Waynes. This contract was just stunning across  the board. The Bengals rarely go into free agency and in general are pretty frugal but they went all out here. Waynes probably won’t play a game this year which means he better give the Bengals an awesome 2021 season since they will be $31M in the hole by the end of 2021.

3. Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts
$27.975M/year, 2021 Free Agent

I really didn’t want to put a contract that will expire this year this high on a list but there was no way to do a worst contracts list and not include this colossal of a mistake in the top 5. The Colts got blindsided when Andrew Luck retired but somehow their solution was to take Brissett, who went 4-11 as an injury replacement starter in 2017, and throw him a one year extension worth about $28M for the year. The team got no long term investment out of the contract and wound up paying more than it would have cost to just tag Brissett this year. Brissett went 7-8 last year which pushed the Colts to sign 39 year old Philip Rivers to a $25M contract, giving the Colts, by far, the biggest investment in the position this year. I’ve spent two years trying to make sense of this contract and simply can’t.

2. Robert Quinn, Edge, Bears
$14M/year, $14.7M 2021 cap hit, $23.9M to cut

What was Chicago thinking when they signed Quinn to this contract?  Quinn had been traded for pennies on the dollar by the Rams and then wound up on the Cowboys for a fair value of $8 million. Quinn had a terrific year for Dallas and I could see $10M or so for a veteran 30 year old rusher, even one who for the most part trended down for three of the last four years, but $14M a year and $30M guaranteed? The Bears prorated $15.5M of his salary so they were confident that he was going to be a dominant rusher for them but instead Quinn has played just 42% of the defensive snaps for the Bears and carries an OTC valuation of $2.1M. This one hits every metric there is- bad decision, bad contract, bad structure, bad performance. You don’t get much worse than this except for…

1. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles
$13M/year, $18.5M 2021 cap hit, $10.5M to cut

If anyone wants to point to the contract that really started to change the dynamics for the 2nd tier receivers I think it was this contract. While you can give the Eagles some credit for getting ahead of the curve I am sure they expected more from this one. Jeffery signed this contract toward the end of the 2017 season and since then has produced, 843 yards, 490 yards, and 15 yards. Jeffery has missed 17 games in the last three seasons and just been a paperweight for the last two years. This contract would have wound up bad but ended up even worse because of a cap relief restructure in 2019 that saw the Eagles convert $10.82M of salary to a bonus. During this restructure they wound up agreeing to guarantee his 2020 salary. It was an epic failure leaving Philly with a cap charge of $15.4m this year and absolutely no production. Even next year when they walk away from him he will leave them with a $10.5M parting gift.

2021 Compensatory Draft Picks Update (11/17/2020)

There have been several developments regarding how compensatory picks are now being awarded since OTC’s last written update on its projection of the 2021 slate of comp picks. Let’s get right to it.

TeamRoundCompensated Free AgentAPY
NE3Tom Brady$25,000,000
LAC3Philip Rivers$25,000,000
NO3Teddy Bridgewater$21,000,000
DAL3Byron Jones$16,500,000
TEN3Jack Conklin$14,000,000
LAR3Dante Fowler Jr.$15,000,000
NE4Kyle Van Noy$12,750,000
DAL4Robert Quinn$14,000,000
PIT4Javon Hargrave$13,000,000
GB4Blake Martinez$10,250,000
LAR4Cory Littleton$11,750,000
MIN4Trae Waynes$14,000,000
NE4Jamie Collins$10,000,000
KC4Kendall Fuller$10,000,000
ATL5Vic Beasley$9,500,000
GB5Bryan Bulaga$10,000,000
DAL5Randall Cobb$9,000,000
KC5Emmanuel Ogbah$7,500,000
SF5Emmanuel Sanders$8,000,000
BAL5Michael Pierce$9,000,000
ATL5De’Vondre Campbell$6,000,000
CAR5Vernon Butler$7,625,000
TB6Breshad Perriman$6,500,000
ATL6Wes Schweitzer$4,500,000
GB6Kyler Fackrell$4,600,000
CHI6Nicholas Williams$5,000,000
PHI6Jordan Howard$4,875,000
MIN6Mackensie Alexander$4,000,000
BAL6Seth Roberts$3,750,000
CHI6Chase Daniel$4,350,000
PIT6B.J. Finney$4,000,000
PHI6Ronald Darby$3,000,000
Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded
CHI6Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix$3,750,000
PIT6Tyler Matakevich$3,575,000
CHI6Kevin Pierre-Louis$3,000,000
TB6Beau Allen$3,500,000
PHI7Kamu Grugier-Hill$3,000,000
ATL7Adrian Clayborn$2,875,000
DAL7Xavier Su’a-Filo$3,000,000
CAR7Daryl Williams$2,250,000
MIN7Andrew Sendejo$2,250,000
IND7Devin Funchess$2,500,000
IND7Joe Haeg$2,300,000
MIN7Jayron Kearse$2,000,000
NE7Nate Ebner$2,000,000
BAL7Patrick Onwuasor$2,000,000

As you can see, the list on the right (or above on mobile) is very long. As it stands right now, 2021 is projected to shatter the record for most eligible compensatory picks at 46. Since the CBA strictly limits the number of awarded compensatory picks to 32, that means that 14 of these eligible picks would be discarded. That includes all 7th rounders, and even a few 6th rounders. Some of this is due to chance that always exists in the formula, but a bit of this is also due to some additional revelations regarding the formula that will be described below.

The Week 10 rule is no more

Week 10 of the 2020 season is in the books. In the past, what this would have meant for compensatory picks is that teams could no longer cut compensatory free agents (CFAs) on their team and be relieved from those contracts counting against them in the formula.

However, in yet another likely effort by the NFL Management Council to cut down on teams circumventing the formula, the Week 10 rule appears to be no more. Back in August, OTC reported that this was the case, and this has since been confirmed by our good friend Brian McFarland of Russell Street Report.

The best way to understand the veracity of these reports is to take Appendix V of the 2020 CBA, which is the binding authority on the compensatory formula, very literally for what it says–and also for what it does not say. There is no paragraph that says that players can get relief for terminating the contracts of CFAs, nor is “Week 10” or “ten weeks” ever mentioned. Therefore, this is more strong evidence that this rule has been abolished.

And it doesn’t take much thought as to why this rule was abolished. The 2019 regular season saw a large number of compensatory free agents that were cut for comp pick purposes. That likely was not a positive experience for any of these players, even if some of them found better opportunities elsewhere. The abolition of this rule also makes managing cancellation charts easier for teams and for OTC’s projection.

For the 2021 projection, the relevant CFAs that have been cut are:

  • Gerald McCoy (left Carolina, signed with Dallas)
  • Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (left Chicago, signed with Dallas)
  • Vic Beasley (left Tennessee, signed with Atlanta)
  • Seth Roberts (left Baltimore, signed with Carolina)
  • Jordan Howard (left Philadelphia, signed with Miami)

Perhaps the only question that might remain is if the compensatory formula will still count the entire contract, or only what was earned. For example, McCoy signed a contract for $6.1 million in APY, but only earned $3 million over 1 year. If the formula counted him at $3 million APY, that would help the Cowboys’ comp picks. However, since Appendix V makes no such mention, the projection is assuming that the whole contract will count.

CFAs that are COVID-19 opt outs will still be eligible to award compensatory picks.

Among all the chaos that this pandemic created, it also resulted in collective bargaining that allowed players to opt out of the season by tolling their contract a year. Two compensatory free agents applied for this opt out: Michael Pierce (left Baltimore, signed with Minnesota) and Devin Funchess (left Indianapolis, signed with Green Bay). The best assumption to have made was that these players would still qualify as CFAs, but that they would earn no snap count bonus. The most important part of this, qualification, has indeed been confirmed by Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

Another important part of this question applies not just to COVID-19 opt outs that are CFAs, but to the league as whole, which brings us to the next important change in the projection:

The number of “all players on rosters” could be higher than normal this season

What remains the most difficult part of projecting compensatory picks is determining the number, as defined by Appendix V, of “all players on rosters at the conclusion of a regular season”. This number is important, because this is the denominator of how percentile cutoffs are determined, which in turn determine what round, if any, a CFA’s contract is valued as.

In the past, the best way to guess this number is to only exclude players that are on practice squads, but include all others–including players on reserve lists, such as Injured Reserve. However, the new COVID-19 rules have also resulted in more players on reserve lists. This is not only the 69 players that opted out, as described above, but also potentially a number of additional players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list for active players that have either tested positive or may be at risk to test positive.

If these players are included, that should increase this leaguewide roster count denominator. Previously, the formula was using a rough estimate of previous estimations, which came out to 1,935. However, the formula will now be using a real time count of this number that is pulled from OTC’s database. At the time of publication, that number is 2,050. The end result is that some CFAs may now be valued at a higher round, and some other CFAs that were not projected to qualify now do.

As a result, here are the following changes to watch for in OTC’s 2021 comp pick projections:

  • New England: There is a chance that they could earn a net loss of four CFAs. However, this will depend on whether or not Nate Ebner’s contract qualifies. That contract is right on the bubble. Patriots fans should root for Ebner, a career special teams player, to earn some more snaps on defense for the Giants.

    However, even if Ebner’s contract qualifies, whether the Patriots get a fourth comp pick will come down to the valuation of Beau Allen’s contract. Currently, it’s on the bubble of the 6th/7th round cutoff. If it’s valued as a 7th, which is possible given that Allen is missing the entire season, the Patriots would add a 6th rounder for the departure of Danny Shelton. But if it’s a 6th, the potential fourth comp pick would be a 7th for Ebner that wouldn’t make the 32 pick limit.
  • Baltimore: Their net loss of CFAs could raise to two or even three. The contracts of both Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor are on the bubble of qualifying. If at least one of them do, the Ravens could potentially add a 6th rounder for the departure of Seth Roberts (despite being cut by the Panthers as described above). Like Patriots fans, Ravens fans should root for Bynes to continue play frequently for the Bengals, and for Onwuasor to get off IR and play for the Jets.

    However, like the Patriots, this would also depend on whether Derek Wolfe’s contract is valued as a 6th or 7th rounder, a contract is right on the bubble of that cutoff. If it’s a 6th, then the contracts of Wolfe and Roberts will cancel each other out, and like with the Patriots and Ebner, 7th rounders for the contracts of Bynes or Onwuasor will not make the 32 pick limit. The Ravens will decide whether additional playtime for Wolfe, a player who’s contribution has always been valued since entering the league with the Broncos, is worth losing a potential 6th round comp pick.
  • Pittsburgh: Tyler Matakevich, primarily a special teamer with the Bills, is also on the bubble of that 6th/7th round cutoff. If his contract is valued as a 6th, there’s a chance the Steelers could add an addition 6th rounder for his departure, but it may be difficult for it to make the 32 pick limit.
  • Kansas City: Due to injury early in the season, there was some question as to whether Kendall Fuller’s contract would be valued at the 4th or 5th round. With the cutoffs getting more generous, as long as Fuller stays healthy, the Chiefs should feel more comfortable that they’ll indeed get a 4th rounder for his departure to DC.
  • Philadelphia: Ronald Darby’s contract is now more likely to be valued as a 6th rounder, which would possibly give the Eagles a 6th round comp pick for his departure, so long as it can make the 32 pick limit.
  • Atlanta: De’Vondre Campbell’s contract may now be valued a 5th rounder instead of a 6th, those boosting a comp pick the Falcons are projected to get from a 6th to a 5th.
  • Carolina: It is now more likely that Vernon Butler’s contract will be valued as a 5th rounder than as a 6th. If that’s the case, then the Panthers would get a 5th for his departure instead of a 6th for a different player’s departure.
  • Tampa Bay: The question with Beau Allen’s contract as described above under the Patriots also affects his former team in the Bucs. If the contract is valued as a 6th rounder, the Bucs will get a 6th for that contract. If not, they’d only be eligible for a possible 7th rounder for the departure of Jameis Winston (assuming his odd consideration qualifies him at all) that won’t make the 32 pick limit, even if Winston plays as much as the rest of the regular season in relief of Drew Brees in New Orleans.

How will compensatory picks for the hiring of minority head coaches and general managers be handled?

Finally, the NFL finally succeeded in using the compensatory pick system to encourage the advancement of minorities in its highest ranks. The league approved a resolution that will award two or three 3rd round comp picks, one each per draft, to teams that see a coach or executive depart due to being hired as a head coach or general manager elsewhere.

While the resolution itself is straightforward, the application to the compensatory formula is not. The resolution states that “[a]ny compensatory Draft picks awarded pursuant to this Policy will be at the end of the third round following all compensatory Draft picks awarded to clubs pursuant to Appendix V of the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement”.

However, Art. 6, §2(a)(i) of the CBA is very clear that the number of comp picks are to be “a maximum number of additional Compensatory Draft Selections equal to the number of Clubs then in the League”, which is 32. To confirm how strict this is, when there was a rare exception to this in 2016 when a 33rd pick was authorized due to clarification over how the contract of transition tagged Charles Clay should be handled, that authorization required approval from the NFLPA.

If the intention of the league is to award these minority hire compensatory picks separate from what is laid out in Appendix V, and potentially go beyond 32 comp picks in total, then I would presume that the NFLPA may want to give a similar approval here. Whether or not this is an issue the NFLPA wants to take up is up to them, but the reason why they might want to is straightforward: if there are more than 32 comp picks, that means that there are more incoming rookies that are denied the privilege of undrafted free agency.

Conversely, if the number of total comp picks remains fixed at 32, then that will force more regular comp picks to miss the 32 pick limit. That may be of concern for teams that were counting on a 6th or 7th round pick that won’t get it due to the addition of this new rule.

This is an answer that OTC will try to track down, and if any of our friends in the media are also able to get an answer, that would be greatly appreciated.

NFL Offensive and Defensive Scoring Efficiency, Week 8

Here are the updated rankings for the teams after 8 games. You can read more about how we calculate them but basically it measures how many more points you score or allow than your schedules particular average. the average performance of the teams on their schedule. This year has a large number of teams basically nearing the middle and really nobody who stands out as dominant leaving this a wide open season unless you are the Jets who skew everything in a negative direction.

Here is the data in table form.

TeamPoints ScoredPoints AllowedTotal EfficiencyPredicted Wins
Ravens18.2%28.7%46.9%12.5
Chiefs24.4%18.0%42.4%12.0
Buccaneers24.4%16.4%40.8%11.9
Steelers18.4%18.4%36.8%11.5
Dolphins6.5%21.8%28.3%10.7
Seahawks42.9%-14.9%27.9%10.6
Cardinals7.8%10.3%18.2%9.7
Rams-0.6%18.1%17.5%9.7
49ers10.1%7.2%17.3%9.6
Colts0.3%13.5%13.8%9.3
Packers13.0%0.7%13.7%9.3
Saints20.5%-9.9%10.6%9.0
Bears-18.6%20.8%2.1%8.2
Titans10.7%-8.2%2.5%8.2
Chargers2.7%-1.7%1.0%8.1
Raiders11.8%-11.5%0.3%8.0
Panthers-12.6%10.9%-1.7%7.9
Patriots-20.7%14.4%-6.3%7.4
Vikings-2.3%-5.6%-7.9%7.2
Eagles-2.0%-7.2%-9.2%7.1
Bills1.7%-12.1%-10.4%7.0
Bengals-7.8%-2.9%-10.7%7.0
Lions1.2%-13.2%-12.0%6.8
Texans-4.3%-9.8%-14.1%6.7
Broncos-13.0%-2.7%-15.7%6.5
Browns3.7%-19.2%-15.4%6.5
Falcons-4.0%-12.1%-16.1%6.5
Redskins-25.8%4.2%-21.7%6.0
Giants-24.1%-1.4%-25.4%5.6
Jaguars-15.4%-24.0%-39.4%4.2
Cowboys-8.7%-41.1%-49.8%3.2
Jets-50.1%-14.2%-64.3%1.9

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A Modest Proposal To Nudge Trade Deadline Activity

Fans and the media often crave for activity as the trade deadline approaches. They identify contenders and pretenders, and make reasonable hypotheses of where players from the latter should go to the former. Yet every season, they are regularly disappointed as to how little actually happens. Much of this has to do with the how the rules of the CBA and the financial constraints that it creates make trades less practical than it seems. However, it may be fair to say in some cases that a few teams are more reticent to throw in the towel on players that are unlikely to be part of their future than they should be.

Therefore, as a bit of a thought exercise I conceived a proposed new rule to the CBA that would allow a small group of players to be traded immediately after the deadline–even against the will of the team they’re currently on.

To be eligible to be one of those players, all of the following criteria must be attained:

  1. The player must be on a team that has either zero or one wins by the trade deadline. (The idea here is that with a minimum of six losses plus ties, even with an expanded playoff slate it would still be daunting to come back from that hole.)
  2. The player’s contract must be set to expire at the conclusion of this season.
  3. The player must be on a vested veteran contract. (That’s defined here as having at least four accrued seasons before the current season started, and also not on a rookie contract.)
  4. The player additionally may not be on a one year contract resulting from being given a franchise or transition tender. (The idea here is that we are giving teams the benefit of the doubt that they are actually using these tenders in a good faith effort to later extend them.)

Among those players, the following procedure would then take place:

  1. In the 24 hours after the trade deadline ends (this year, Tuesday, November 3 at 4 PM ET), any team may submit any amount of draft pick compensation it is willing to surrender to a team in exchange for the player it would like to acquire.
  2. After this 24 hour period ends (this year, Wednesday, November 4 at 4 PM ET), the NFL notifies all teams and players in question who has been given a trade offer. If multiple offers are made for the same player, the offer with the higher draft compensation wins out, and ties will be broken by standard waiver order.
  3. For the next 48 hours (this year, ending on Friday, November 6 at 4 PM ET), the player decides whether or not to accept the trade offer. If so desired, the player and team may renegotiate their contract to avoid the trade, and they may also be granted an exemption from the trade deadline to trade the player to a different team for different compensation, should both sides agree upon it.

The list of players on the right (or below on small mobile devices) are the players from the teams that could qualify for this new rule in 2020. Those teams, for the time being, are the Jets, Giants, Jaguars, Texans, Falcons, Vikings, and Bengals. The players on the Jets, Jaguars and Texans will be there no matter what, while the other teams will remain should they lose in Week 8.

Looking at this list, there are hardly any stars on there, as you’d expect, and the grand majority would be players that teams would be unlikely to be desired by other teams for even a 7th round pick. Still, there are a few notable names that might be able to help a team with injury/depth problems at certain positions.

Some positions that caught my eye were the following:

  • Defensive backs appear to stand out in quantity. This includes Brian Poole, Pierre Desir, and Bradley McDougald on the Jets, Logan Ryan on the Giants, Mackensie Alexander on the Bengals, Vernon Hargreaves on the Texans, and Darqueze Dennard on the Falcons.
  • Alex Mack, Dakota Dozier, and Cameron Fleming are a trio of offensive linemen with high snap counts that could provide a patch for teams hurting there.
  • Teams looking for edge rush help could look at Kyler Fackrell, Brennan Scarlett, or Jordan Jenkins.
  • At wide receiver, the Jets have a pair in Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan, while Chris Conley shows up on this list from the Jaguars, as well as Kenny Stills from the Texans.
  • Finally, would anyone take a flyer on Todd Gurley at running back?

This is an idea that almost certainly will never happen, as teams will be very loath to give up this kind of roster control. But if nothing else, it’s at least a way to identify players whose time on a struggling team may be coming to an end, regardless of whether that’s now or at the end of the regular season.

NameTeamPos.AgeSnapsRemaining Salary
Alex MackATLC35100.0%$4,705,882
Kenny StillsHOUWR2832.5%$4,102,941
D.J. HaydenJAXCB3043.5%$3,529,412
Shawn WilliamsCINS299.6%$2,455,331
Bradley McDougaldNYJS3093.6%$2,398,897
Todd GurleyATLRB2654.7%$2,058,824
Breshad PerrimanNYJWR2734.6%$2,045,956
Avery WilliamsonNYJLB2855.7%$2,039,522
Abry JonesJAXIDL2939.1%$2,000,000
Chris ConleyJAXWR2841.0%$1,588,548
Kyler FackrellNYGEDGE2973.7%$1,529,412
Kevin HuberCINP3530.9%$1,470,588
Mackensie AlexanderCINCB2754.4%$1,464,154
Spencer PulleyNYGC270.0%$1,180,882
Matt SchaubATLQB390.0%$1,176,471
A.J. McCarronHOUQB300.0%$1,176,471
Graham GanoNYGK3332.6%$1,170,037
Cameron FlemingNYGRT2896.3%$1,163,603
Jordan JenkinsNYJEDGE2647.9%$1,163,603
Brian PooleNYJCB2882.4%$1,163,603
Brennan ScarlettHOUEDGE2752.6%$1,083,640
Pierre DesirNYJCB3080.9%$1,016,544
Alex EricksonCINWR286.7%$997,426
Dion LewisNYGRB3034.5%$900,184
Logan RyanNYGCB2992.5%$898,897
Randy BullockCINK3135.4%$897,059
Christian CovingtonCINDE2752.0%$875,919
Joe FlaccoNYJQB3535.8%$870,772
Mike DanielsCINDT3115.6%$842,647
Tyler ShatleyJAXC2942.7%$808,824
Austin JohnsonNYGIDL3119.9%$801,471
Matthias FarleyNYJS280.7%$749,044
LeShaun SimsCINCB2738.8%$731,434
Josh BynesCINLB3170.0%$730,147
Kamalei CorreaJAXEDGE2619.5%$728,860
Chris ThompsonJAXRB3034.9%$673,897
James O’ShaughnessyJAXTE2849.7%$647,794
Mike GlennonJAXQB310.0%$645,772
Devonta FreemanNYGRB2831.7%$629,412
Vernon HargreavesHOUCB2577.7%$625,919
Jabaal SheardNYGEDGE313.7%$617,647
Margus HuntCINDT3327.3%$617,647
Jon WeeksHOULS3428.7%$617,647
Luke StockerATLTE3239.6%$617,647
LaRoy ReynoldsATLLB304.9%$617,647
Frank GoreNYJRB3740.3%$617,647
Chris HoganNYJWR3268.2%$617,647
Clark HarrisCINLS3630.9%$617,647
Blidi Wreh-WilsonATLCB3127.3%$617,647
Nate EbnerNYGS327.0%$617,647
Colt McCoyNYGQB340.0%$617,647
Aaron LynchJAXEDGE270.0%$591,544
Darqueze DennardATLCB2947.6%$591,544
Patrick OnwuasorNYJLB280.0%$588,235
Neville HewittNYJLB2799.3%$588,235
Steven MeansATLEDGE3147.6%$535,294
Kyle EmanuelHOULB290.0%$535,294
Caraun ReidJAXDT297.1%$535,294
Xavier WilliamsCINDT2811.2%$535,294
Josh AndrewsNYJRG2910.4%$535,294
Brett JonesMINC290.0%$535,294
George IlokaMINS3010.6%$535,294
Brent QvaleHOURT290.0%$535,294
Adam GotsisJAXEDGE2845.9%$535,294
Eric TomlinsonNYGTE280.5%$535,294
C.J. ProsiseHOURB261.4%$535,294
John WetzelATLRT290.7%$535,294
Bruce MillerJAXFB3311.6%$535,294
Todd DavisMINLB2811.8%$535,294
Sharrod NeasmanATLS2910.7%$535,294
Daniel BrownNYJTE280.0%$535,294
Tyrell AdamsHOULB2834.0%$535,294
Dakota DozierMINLG29100.0%$535,294
Phillip GainesHOUCB2916.3%$535,294
Rashod HillMINRT281.1%$535,294
Ameer AbdullahMINRB275.3%$535,294
Casey KreiterNYGLS3028.7%$535,294
Sean MannionMINQB280.0%$535,294
Michael ThomasHOUS3112.6%$535,294
Brandon WilliamsNYGCB280.0%$485,294
Mike ThomasCINWR2632.9%$485,294
Tajae SharpeMINWR264.2%$485,294
Bryce HagerNYJLB280.0%$130,311
David FalesNYJQB300.0%$120,000
Greg ManczHOUC280.0%$120,000
Ross TravisNYJTE270.0%$120,000
Carson TinkerNYGLS310.0%$120,000
Laquon TreadwellATLWR250.0%$120,000
Josh MauroJAXEDGE290.0%$120,000
Alfred MorrisNYGRB320.0%$120,000
Corey LiugetHOUDE300.0%$120,000
Devin SmithHOUWR270.0%$120,000

Vikings Trade Ngakoue

After a terrible start to the 2020 season the Vikings have quickly pulled the plug one of their worst decisions of the 2020, a trade of a 2nd and 5th round draft pick for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue by trading Ngakoue to the Ravens for a 3rd and 5th round draft pick. Obviously many will pan the move by Minnesota who will have spent $6.82 million for 6 games of Ngakoue, but for a team going nowhere it is a move that really had to be made to fix the original mistake of trading for him.

The problem with the original trade, from my perspective, was not really the cost but the expected benefit. Minnesota needed to use the 2020 season to kind of get their salary cap in order for the future but wound up making a few bad decisions along the way and this was the most glaring one. From the Vikings perspective I am sure that they saw this as a great opportunity to get a discount on a potential top end pass rusher to replace injured defensive end Danielle Hunter, but the Vikings were not one or two players away from a championship. This should have been a reset year for them, especially following the Diggs trade, but between using a franchise tag on their safety, extending a running back and this trade it was anything but.

By moving Ngakoue the team will shed $5.18 million in salary and at least come recover some of what they gave up to acquire him. Given that the Ravens are a good football team the drop in draft selection will wind up being close to two rounds, but better that than nothing at all. The Vikings should now have 11 draft selections next year to find a way to return to respectability.

I am not sure how much harm this offseason created within the locker room of Minnesota. They pushed tackle Riley Reiff into a large pay cut to make this move happen and while Reiff was always a pay cut candidate there is a big difference between doing the move in March versus the way it went down. In addition they could not come to terms with Anthony Harris and traded Stefon Diggs during the offseason Reportedly Hunter is now looking to become the highest paid defensive player in the NFL and that is a lot to ask considering he is coming off what sounds to be a major neck injury and has three years remaining on his contract.

The Vikings do have some parts that they could move if they go into a wheeling and dealing mode. Reiff would be a good target for any team with injuries on the line and Harris might also be a good piece for a playoff team.

Ultimately this is likely going to be an offseason for Minnesota to forget. They had done, in my opinion, a very good job in building a team that was to compete between 2018 and 2020. I thought that they saw the peak in 2019 and realized it would not be good enough so they began to make hard decisions about 2020 to better position themselves for 2021 to 2023. But they seemed to waver between a short term and long term focus and have ended up in a bad situation with a failing team with an expensive failing QB. Now they will have to continue to make some tough decisions in 2021 with this current roster concerning who should stay and who should go, when it should have mainly be solved in 2020.

The other possible loser in this may be Ngakoue though he will now get a chance to shine on a playoff team. Ngakoue took a $5 million+ pay cut to be traded out of Jacksonville and did not receive any concessions about trades or franchise tags. While he still is a productive pass rusher I lean toward people looking at his quick run in Minnesota as forgettable. If he does not stand out in Baltimore that will be too many different teams in a short period of time and it could hurt his eventual free agent prospects. If, however, he has a major part in a playoff run he could really be positioned well.

Baltimore winds up the winner here. They get a pass rusher for the important part of the year with the Vikings picking up most of the cost. They have the right to tag him next year if they want and if they want to let him walk will likely be in a position to receive a compensatory pick of a 3rd rounders back in 2021. If you were an AFC contender it would have been worth considering this trade just to block the Ravens from making it.

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