Evaluating 2015 Free Agency With Regard To 2016 Compensatory Picks

Around this time last year I took a look to identify some teams that used 2014 free agency wisely or poorly with respect to the compensatory pick formula in 2015, so I’ll reprise that effort this time by moving a year ahead in each department. For reference, you may find the list of the 2016 compensatory picks awarded here, and the cancellation charts for all 32 teams here. (Select the 2016 tabs on both pages.)

Buffalo

  • CFAs Lost (4): Da’Norris Searcy (4th), CJ Spiller (6th), Lee Smith (6th), Erik Pears (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (1): Tyrod Taylor (7th)

The Bills were quite shrewd here in landing Taylor on a very cheap contract for a quarterback, avoiding him cancelling out a higher CFA lost. And although this may have been more luck than skill, they were also able to avoid having the signing of Charles Clay on a transition offer sheet cancel out Searcy due to a renegotiation in the compensatory formula rules that now does not count transition tagged players.

Cleveland

  • CFAs Lost (6): Jordan Cameron (4th), Buster Skrine (4th), Jabaal Sheard (5th), Brian Hoyer (5th), Ahtyba Rubin (7th), Miles Austin (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (2): Tramon Williams (4th), Rob Housler (7th)

The Browns didn’t get a whole lot out of Williams and especially Housler, the latter of who was cut before the season even ended. But on the other hand, the teams that signed the CFAs the Browns lost largely didn’t a whole lot out of them either.

Denver

  • CFAs Lost (7): Julius Thomas (3rd), Orlando Franklin (4th), Rahim Moore (6th), Terrance Knighton (6th), Nate Irving (7th), Jacob Tamme (7th), Will Montgomery (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (2): Owen Daniels (6th), Darian Stewart (7th)

This was yet another example of John Elway mastering free agency well. He made correct decisions on which UFAs to let walk, as none of those players lasted more than two years on the team that signed them. Meanwhile, Daniels proved to be a solid one year acquisition as part of their successful Super Bowl run, while Stewart was rewarded with an extension after emerging as a starter at safety.

Kansas City

  • CFAs Lost (3): Rodney Hudson (3rd), Kurt Coleman (7th), Thomas Gafford (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (2): Jeremy Maclin (3rd), Paul Fanaika (7th)

The Chiefs likely regret giving Maclin that five year, $11 million APY deal that cancelled out the loss of Hudson, who is still going strong for their hated rival in the Raiders. Not only did they get only two years and around 1,600 receiving yards out of Maclin, they were also penalized two draft picks for tampering with Maclin. Add it all up, and the Chiefs lost two 3rds and a 6th to get Maclin. That’s a steep price to pay in addition to the dollars spent.

To add insult to injury, Fanaika spent all of his Chiefs tenure on IR, while they gave up too early on Coleman (more on him below).

San Diego

  • CFAs Lost (4): Marcus Gilchrist (4th), Eddie Royal (5th), Ryan Mathews (6th), Andrew Gachkar (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (3): Orlando Franklin (4th), Patrick Robinson (7th), Jimmy Wilson (7th)

As mentioned above, Franklin only spent two seasons with the Chargers, and they also helped a division rival get a 4th round comp pick instead of taking a 4th for themselves for losing Gilchrist. Wilson, meanwhile, was cut before 2015 was over but was cut too late to remove him from comp pick consideration. At least Robinson was able to complete his one year deal and get a better one from the Colts the season afterward–but the Chargers were unable to get a comp pick for him the following year.

Dallas

  • CFAs Lost (7): DeMarco Murray (4th), Jermey Parnell (4th), Bruce Carter (6th), Justin Durant (6th), Henry Melton (6th), Dwayne Harris (6th), George Selvie (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (3): Greg Hardy (3rd), Darren McFadden (7th), Andrew Gachkar (7th)

It didn’t cost them much in comp picks–only demoting a 4th for Murray into a 6th for Melton. But the signing of Hardy was such a terrible decision in so many ways that I still feel that the Cowboys deserve this dishonorable mention despite otherwise doing well with the formula. It also bears mentioning that the 4th they got for Parnell was used on Dak Prescott.

Philadelphia

  • CFAs Lost (2): Jeremy Maclin (3rd), Nate Allen (5th)
  • CFAs Gained (5): Byron Maxwell (3rd), DeMarco Murray (4th), Walter Thurmond (6th), Ryan Mathews (6th), Miles Austin (7th)

It’s known that Chip Kelly’s one season of gaining final say of the roster in Philadelphia did not go well, and it shows in their comp pick ledger, as well. Maxwell and Murray were traded for pennies on the dollar after only one season, Thurmond retired after 2015, and Austin didn’t even make it to the end of 2015 on the Eagles. Only Mathews lasted one more season. In addition to millions spent were potential 3rd and 5th round comp picks canceled out.

Washington

  • CFAs Lost (4): Brian Orakpo (4th), Jarvis Jenkins (7th), Leonard Hankerson (7th), Roy Helu (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (4): Chris Culliver (4th), Stephen Paea (6th), Terrance Knighton (6th), Jeron Johnson (7th)

Within hours after losing Orakpo to the Titans on a near $8 million APY deal, the Redskins signed Culliver to a deal with almost the same APY. While Orakpo is still going strong in Tennessee, Culliver lasted only one season in DC. I’m guessing the Redskins would now have liked to have a 4th round comp pick for Orakpo instead.

Carolina

  • CFAs Lost (2): Greg Hardy (3rd), Byron Bell (7th)
  • CFAs Gained (2): Charles Tillman (7th), Kurt Coleman (7th)

I think it’s safe to say that, given Tillman’s important veteran presence in their 2015 run to a Super Bowl appearance, and the emergence of Coleman as a starter at safety, that the Panthers are fine with getting that in exchange for losing a 3rd round comp pick for Hardy.

Questions about this article? Reach Nick on Twitter at @nickkorte