Projecting The 2019 Compensatory Picks

This article refers specifically to OTC’s projection for the 2018 NFL Draft’s compensatory picks. For details on the basics and methodology of projecting compensatory picks in general, please reference this article.

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

UPDATE – January 17: Two minor corrections have been made to the APY of Justin Pugh and AJ McCarron. Please reference the two tweets linked on their names to learn more.

The Projection

TeamRoundCompensated Free AgentAPY
WAS3Kirk Cousins$28,000,000
NE3Nate Solder$15,400,000
LAR3Trumaine Johnson$14,500,000
CAR3Andrew Norwell$13,300,000
LAR3Sammy Watkins$15,830,000
NE3Malcolm Butler$12,170,000
BAL3Ryan Jensen$10,500,000
IND4Donte Moncrief$9,600,000
DAL4Anthony Hitchens$8,838,000
ATL4Dontari Poe$8,533,333
PHI4Trey Burton$7,925,000
NYG4Justin Pugh$8,580,000
WAS5Trent Murphy$7,400,000
ATL5Taylor Gabriel$6,500,000
NYG5Devon Kennard$5,650,000
NE5Danny Amendola$5,950,000
WAS6Ryan Grant$5,000,000
ARI6Kareem Martin$4,900,000
PHI6Beau Allen$5,000,000
MIN6Teddy Bridgewater$5,500,000
CIN6AJ McCarron$4,950,000
PHI6Patrick Robinson$4,925,000
CIN6Andre Smith$4,000,000
SF6Aaron Lynch$3,950,000
CIN6Chris Smith$3,900,000
KC6Bennie Logan$4,000,000
MIN7Tramaine Brock$3,000,000
ARI7Drew Stanton$3,056,250
ARI7Jaron Brown$2,750,000
NE7Cameron Fleming$2,500,000
LAR7Cody Davis$2,500,000
MIN7Shamar Stephen$2,100,000
Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded
WAS7Niles Paul$2,218,750
ARI7Blaine Gabbert$2,000,000
CIN7Jeremy Hill$1,331,250
LAR7Derek Carrier$1,275,000
IND7Frank Gore$1,105,000
SF7Leon Hall$1,060,000
SF7Logan Paulsen$1,005,000

Note that although there are 39 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 their presence, as this list does with strikethrough text.

Compensatory picks became tradeable beginning with the 2017 NFL Draft. This year, there has been one such trade thus far, with the Rams slated to send the higher of their two projected 3rd round comp pick to the Jaguars in exchange for Dante Fowler.

I expect the official release to come out on February 22, the Friday before the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Releasing the list then is sensible, as it allows executives at the Combine to discuss possible trades with full knowledge of their draft capital.

Cutoff Projections

It was suggested via the resolution allowing comp picks to be traded on December 2, 2015 that the cutoffs between each rounds and whether or not a player had an APY high enough to qualify was determined by a “rank[ing] against all players in the League who are on rosters at the end of the season”. I have conjectured from this evidence that the cutoffs are based on a percentile system. After refining the OTC’s program following the official release of the 2017 compensatory picks, it’s my guess that the percentiles operate on even percentages divisible by five, as illustrated in the table below.

At the end of the 2018 regular season, OTC’s database identified a total of 1924 players that were either on the active roster or reserve lists, and had also played in at least 10 games during the 2018 regular season. As explained in the general methodology in the previous link, the cutoffs for each round and for qualifying as a compensatory free agent (CFA) have been established by this projection on certain percentile ranks of all players on the active roster and reserve lists at the end of the regular season, sorted by APY adjusted for snap counts in descending order and also represented by the player at the cutoff point. For 2018, these cutoffs are as follows:

RoundPercentileOverall RankRepresentative Player
3rd/4th95th (top 5%)96Luke Kuechly
4th/5th90th (top 10%)192Aaron Colvin
5th/6th85th (top 15%)289Golden Tate
6th/7th75th (top 25%)481Leighton Vander Esch
7th/Qualify50th (top 50%)962Ryan Hewitt

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

  • Ryan Jensen (Baltimore): #71
  • Projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #96
  • Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis): #98
  • Anthony Hitchens (Dallas): #125

4th/5th

  • Justin Pugh (New York Giants): #180
  • Projected 3rd/4th cutoff: #192

5th/6th

  • Danny Amendola (New England): #283
  • Projected 5th/6th cutoff: #289

6th/7th

  • Bennie Logan (Kansas City): #451
  • AJ McCarron (Cincinnati): #467
  • Projected 6th/7th cutoff: #481
  • Tramaine Brock (Minnesota): #506

7th/Qualifying

  • Logan Paulsen (San Francisco): #917
  • Andre Roberts (Atlanta): #927
  • Geno Smith (New York Giants): #954
  • Projected 7th/Qualifying cutoff: #962
  • Bene Benwikere (Dallas): #971
  • Tom Compton (Minnesota): #975
  • Brock Osweiler (Denver): #990
  • Mike Wallace (Philadelphia): #996

Qualifying/Valuation Questions

Teams are becoming more mindful of the rule where a compensatory free agent will not qualify if they are not on their roster past Week 10 (this year, the Sunday games took place on November 11). This year, notable cuts right before this date were Sam Bradford (cut by Arizona November 3), Deonte Thompson (cut by Dallas November 9), and Patrick Omameh (cut by the New York Giants November 10). I have confidence that all three players will not qualify, but it’s worth making this note just in case something goes wrong with those projections.

Meanwhile, as far as cutoffs go, all of the major close calls hover around which players will or will not qualify as compensatory free agents. Most are straightforward in that they are close to where I have this cutoff estimated at. This has usually been a difficult cutoff to project, so I could be wrong on whether some of those players qualify or not.

But one of these qualification questions is quite convoluted. That’s the contract Mike Wallace signed with Philadelphia after leaving Baltimore. Wallace’s contract was first reported as a 1 year deal for “up to $4 million“. Then, it got revised down to “$2.5 million with incentives“. Then it was discovered that the 200-pound Wallace had a $585,000 weight bonus achieved for weighing under 250 pounds. And finally, it was discovered that Wallace’s $1 million signing bonus is an Other Amount Treated As Signing Bonus that’s believed to be a guaranteed workout bonus.

This is a blatant attempt by Eagles GM Howie Roseman to push Wallace’s value in the compensatory formula down so far that he does not qualify as a compensatory free agent, since workout bonuses, weight bonuses, and incentives do not count in the formula. Combine Wallace’s base salary of $915,000 with the fact that he played very few snaps due to going on injured reserve early in the season, and it appears that Roseman may succeed in his goal. By following the known rules of the compensatory formula, I’m projecting that Wallace will not qualify. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL Management Council sees things differently, for if this is correct, Philadelphia has blazed a new trail in how teams can manipulate the formula to their benefit.

Possible Altering Scenarios

  • Arizona
    • If Sam Bradford qualifies, Arizona will not get a 6th for Kareem Martin.
    • If Bene Benwikere qualifies, Arizona will not get a 7th for Drew Stanton.
  • Atlanta
    • If Andre Roberts qualifies but Logan Paulsen does not qualify, Atlanta will be eligible for a 7th for Roberts, but it would be unlikely to make the 32-pick limit.
    • If Andre Roberts does not qualify but Logan Paulsen does qualify, Atlanta will not get a 5th for Taylor Gabriel.
    • If neither Andre Roberts nor Logan Paulsen qualify, nothing changes for Atlanta.
  • Baltimore
    • If the entirety of Mike Wallace’s contract is counted, Baltimore could get a 7th for Ben Watson that would likely be the Mr. Irrelevant pick.
    • If Mike Wallace’s signing bonus is counted, Baltimore will be eligible for a 7th for him, but it would be unlikely to make the 32-pick limit.
  • Dallas
    • If Deonte Thompson qualifies and Bene Benwikere does not qualify, Dallas will not get a 4th for Anthony Hitchens.
    • If Deonte Thompson does not qualify and Bene Benwikere does qualify, Dallas will be eligible for a 7th for Benwikere, but it would be unlikely to make the 32-pick limit.
    • If Deonte Thompson and Bene Benwikere qualify, nothing changes for Dallas.
  • Denver
    • If Brock Osweiler qualifies, Denver will be eligible for a 7th for him, but it would be unlikely to make the 32-pick limit.
  • Minnesota
    • If Sam Bradford qualifies, Minnesota will get a 3rd for Case Keenum.
    • If Tom Compton qualifies and Tramaine Brock is valued as a 7th, Minnesota will not get a 7th for Brock.
    • If Tom Compton qualifies and Tramaine Brock is valued as a 6th, Minnesota will not get a 7th for Shamar Stephen.
  • New York Giants
    • If Geno Smith does not qualify, or Patrick Omameh does qualify, the New York Giants will not get a 5th for Devon Kennard.
    • If Geno Smith does not qualify and Patrick Omameh qualifies, the New York Giants additionally will not get a 4th for Justin Pugh.
  • Los Angeles Chargers
    • If Geno Smith does not qualify, the Los Angeles Chargers will get a 7th for Matt Slauson.
  • Philadelphia
    • If the entirety of Mike Wallace’s contract is counted, Philadelphia will not get a 6th for Beau Allen.
    • If Mike Wallace’s signing bonus is counted, Philadelphia will not get a 6th for Patrick Robinson.

Offseason Plans for the Giants, Jets, and Colts

Last week I appeared on ESPN New York with Anita Marks to discuss the offseason plans for the Giants, Jets, and Colts. We talked about the Colts quick turnaround as an organization and got into what the Giants are doing at quarterback. You can listen here.

Zack Moore is a writer for OverTheCap.com and author of the recently released book titled, “Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions,” which is now available on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter @ZackMooreNFL. 

OTC Podcast: The New York Giants Offseason Preview

In this weeks OTC podcast I look at the state of the New York Giants, their 2019 salary cap and roster decisions, including what to do with Eli Manning. Plus answers to all your Twitter questions about the team.

Listen on Google Play Music

OTC Podcast: The Oakland Raiders Offseason Preview

In this weeks episode I look at the job Reggie McKenzie did with the Raiders and just how bad the job was that he took over, Jon Gruden’s roster building philosophies, the Raiders upcoming salary cap situation, and answer your questions on the Raiders free agent targets.

Listen on Google Play Music

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.