One of the presumptive reasons for the NFL moving up the June 1 date to May 12 was to allow teams to sign unrestricted free agents transitioning to street free agents earlier without those signings counting against them in the compensatory draft pick formula. Now that the league offices have closed for June 1, I thought I’d quickly take a look to see what effects this change had.
I identified 15 players signed from May 13 to June 1 that were previously UFAs that should have transitioned into SFAs after May 12:
As you can see, 12 of these 15 players (marked with asterisks) were indeed signed by teams that are currently eligible for compensatory picks in 2016. While it can’t be said for certain that any of these signings were held off with comp picks in mind (in Ryan Harris’s case, for example, it was clearly due to the Broncos needing to quickly rebuild depth after losing Ryan Clady for the year), there appears to be strong circumstantial evidence. In the case of Brandon Spikes, it’s especially strong; it’s known the Patriots brought him in for a visit on May 6, but didn’t sign him until May 18. The Ravens, of course, are well known for signing players at later dates for comp pick purposes, so it’s also not surprising to see them appear on this list with their signing of Cassius Vaughn.
It’s important to remember that the grand majority of these signings would likely not qualify for the formula anyway due to low salary, assuming all the TBAs signed for the veteran minimum or minimum salary benefit. (Spikes and Joseph Barksdale are the only two I could say with confidence that they would have qualified regardless of playing time adjustments.) Furthermore, any picks awarded from these players (either directly, or indirectly via different cancellations) would have been 7th rounders that likely wouldn’t have made it past the 32-pick limit.
However, if all these players did count against the teams that signed them, the following picks currently on the 2016 compensatory picks board would have been cancelled out:
- Arizona’s 5th for Dan Williams
- Detroit’s 5th for Nick Fairley
- New England’s 6th for Shane Vereen
- San Diego’s 6th for Ryan Mathews
- Dallas’s 6th for Justin Durant
- New England’s 6th for Akeem Ayers
- Cleveland’s 7th for Miles Austin (currently beyond 32-pick limit)
- Baltimore’s 7th for Tyrod Taylor (currently beyond 32-pick limit)
- Detroit’s 7th for Kellen Davis (currently beyond 32-pick limit)
In addition, Denver’s 7th for Jacob Tamme (currently beyond 32-pick limit) would be cancelled out by Harris, but replaced by a lower-valued 7th for either Mitch Unrein or Will Montgomery, who both signed for $950,000.
If those cancellations had happened, the following six picks currently beyond the 32-pick limit would have been awarded (all 7th rounders):
- Seattle for O’Brien Schofield ($1.7M APY)
- Denver for either Mitch Unrein or Will Montgomery ($950,000 APY)
- Kansas City for Thomas Gafford ($950,000 APY)
- Kansas City for Kevin Vickerson ($950,000 APY)
- Washington for Tyler Polumbus ($870,000 APY)
- the highest valued player left among numerous teams after playing time adjustments, assuming one of those players qualified. If none did, Carolina would get the Mr. Irrelevant selection instead as a net-value comp pick.