How Did The May 12 Shift Affect Signings With Regards To 2016 Compensatory Picks?

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:

may-12-june-1As 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.
  • Ben Fitzgerald

    Idk why they’re so worried, anything below a 4th has almost no value anyway.

    • theowl

      Kyle Williams, Tom Brady, Robert Mathis, Marques Colston, Rodney Harrison, Cortland Finnegan, Richard Sherman, Cam Chancellor, Trent Cole, Michael Bennett, Antoine Bethea, Greg Hardy, Chris Meyers, Antonio Brown, Jason Kelce, Charles Clay, Alfred Morris, Ahmad Bradshaw… these are just recent players, and there are more players who are starting in the NFL today… and then there are the Hall of Famers…

      • Jim

        How many of these were comp picks? ;)

        • Nick

          That misses the point a bit. If you have multiple picks in any given round it increases the odds (but doesn’t guarantee) that you’ll hit in that round. Using the 2000 Patriots as an example, they had three 6ths that year, two from comp picks. They used the first comp pick on Brady, and the other two were on Antwan Harris and David Nugent (who?). Without those comp 6ths maybe they take Brady with the regular 6th…or maybe they don’t get Brady at all.

          • Jim

            I’m just trying to clarify how much of a rarity it is that those picks are actually hits. Those 18 players that were listed were out of ~1,500 5th through 7th rounders over that time span. Then I can point out all the success stories from rookie UFA’s and those were “free” so-to-speak (doesn’t cost anything).

            It’s a bit like the lottery. A free pick is a free pick and it’s worth something, but you’ve got to admit, chances are pretty darn low. 7th rd pick is better than UFA, but not much better.

  • theowl

    Nice Nick.

    I hope you don’t mind me putting this bug in your ear again. For next year it would be cool if you could expand your Cancellation Table to not only include unsigned free agents from each team so we could follow a team’s strategy as the year unfolds, but also each team’s free agents and would be free agents that they re-sign. For example Randell Cobb and Brian Bulaga of the Packers… most people say the Packers didn’t sign any free agents, and technically they didn’t, but for all practical purposes they did. They just signed those two guys early when they had exclusive negotiating rights. The Packers signed them for free agent market values and if they didn’t sign them, some other team(s) would have signed them. And if the Players wanted to go elsewhere, The Packers would have been eligible for some sweet comp. picks. Personally I think if Cobb and Bulaga, and definitely Michael Bennett, would have waited a few days for free agency, they would have received better offers.

    It is all part of the Free Agent/Comp. Pick strategy. It might be a lot of work, but it seems like you really dig this stuff… and I know more and more fans are going to appreciate it as they get more educated. Cheers for being pioneers!

    • Nick

      I’ll see what I can do on that next year. I’m not sure if adding that would make the chart too complex, which is a concern of mine since understanding how the comp pick formula works is quite difficult.

      • theowl

        I hear your concerns. Here’s to hoping it is possible.