Projecting the Compensatory Draft Picks for 2015


  • January 19 (11:39 AM ET): The projections have been altered to include CJ Wilson (originally missed as a qualifying player), and to change a cutoff point between the 5th round and 6th round.  Subtracted information has been struck out and updated information bolded.
  • February 4: Added UFAs originally missed that were signed between April 8 and before June 1. See this post for more details.
  • February 18: Added a change to same level cancellation and to the cutoff APYs between rounds. See this post for more details.


For details on the basics and methodology of projecting compensatory picks in general, please reference this post. To briefly sum up the key methodologies used specifically for 2015, this is what that projection will use:

  • OTC’s current salary cap estimate of $140 million; the official number will likely be different, but only enough to possibly impact one player.
  • Cutoff points between rounds and qualifying as follows, based on the contract’s Average Per Year (APY):
    • 3rd/4th: $8,198,308 APY
    • 4th/5th: $5,703,872 APY
    • 5th/6th: $4,300,752 APY
    • 6th/7th: $2,289,254 APY
    • Minimum: $730,000 APY (representing the four year veteran minimum salary for 2015)
  • Ties in APY will be broken by playing time as represented in snap counts, the only such usage of playing time for this projection.
  • Postseason honors as represented by being selected to the Pro Bowl will not be used; even if they were, this year it would only likely impact one player.

With all these usages, please understand that this projection will almost certainly not be 100% accurate. I expect to have several picks out of exact order (especially in the later rounds) due to not placing much weight on playing time, and I will likely be wrong on the qualifications of some players (though I will explain some possible altering scenarios if I am wrong on some relevant players). My goal is to give a general understanding as to what picks will likely be awarded to certain teams.

If you have questions or see any possible errors, do not hesitate to provide feedback—either by commenting directly on this post, or by using the contact form on the calculator page.

The Projection

With the above in place, here is my current projection for the 2015 compensatory picks (the programmed version can be found here):

TeamRoundCompensated Free AgentAvg./Year
NE3Aqib Talib$9,500,000
KC3Branden Albert$9,400,000
CIN3Michael Johnson$8,750,000
SF4Donte Whitner$7,000,000
BAL4Arthur Jones$6,600,000
SEA4Golden Tate$6,200,000
DEN4Zane Beadles$6,000,000
SEA5Brandon Browner$5,050,000
BAL5Michael Oher$5,000,000
KC5Tyson Jackson$5,000,000
SEA5Breno Giacomini$4,500,000
KC5Jon Asamoah$4,500,000
HOU5Antonio Smith$4,500,000
BAL6Corey Graham$4,075,000
HOU6Earl Mitchell$4,000,000
PIT6Ziggy Hood$4,000,000
GB6Evan Dietrich-Smith$3,562,500
GB6James Jones$3,333,333
STL6Chris Williams$3,287,500
HOU6Ben Tate$3,100,000
SEA6Clinton McDonald$3,000,000
HOU6Joe Mays$3,000,000
DEN6Knowshon Moreno$3,000,000
DEN6Shaun Phillips$2,500,000
DEN7Robert Ayers$1,875,000
NE7Dane Fletcher$1,200,000
IND7Jeff Linkenbach$900,000
GB7Marshall Newhouse$805,000
KC7Kendrick Lewis$795,000
ARI7Antoine Cason$795,000
BAL7Ed Dickson$795,000
NO7Charles Brown$795,000
Compensation over 32-pick limit; not awarded
GB7CJ Wilson$795,000
SF7Colt McCoy$795,000
DAL7Danny McCray$795,000
IND7Darrius Heyward-Bey$795,000
ARI7Javier Arenas$795,000
IND7Cassius Vaughn$730,000
CAR7net value(276.1%)

As you can see, there are actually 39 picks listed here, but because only a maximum of 32 compensatory picks can be awarded, the extra picks are disregarded. For this same reason, I project that no “non-compensatory picks” will be needed (which essentially fill out what would be an eighth round if there were fewer than 32 compensatory picks awarded).

Qualifying Questions

As mentioned above, there is a good chance that I am too generous with the number of players I have projected as qualifying for the compensatory pick formula. At the same time, there are a few players that I have disqualified based on more well known factors that also deserve an explanation.

First, as AdamJT13 laid out, players may lose their qualification for the formula if they “have been permanently released by his new team before a certain point in the season (which seems to be after Week 10)”. Clearly, players that were cut before the season even started (a few examples being Tiquan Underwood, Domenik Hixon, Jordan Senn, and Israel Idonije) have not been counted in this projection.

Second, as mentioned above, I am otherwise qualifying all other players that signed for an APY of at least $730,000, representing the veteran minimum for a player with four accrued seasons of experience. However, there is a good chance that several players in the $730,000 to $850,000 APY range may not qualify, either due a stricter minimum APY threshold, or due to a lack of sufficient playing time. The following is a list of players that would alter this projection if they don’t qualify:

  • Marshall Newhouse ($805,000 APY, 34.4% snaps)
  • Kendrick Lewis ($795,000 APY, 95.4% snaps)
  • Antoine Cason ($795,000 APY, 65.5% snaps)
  • Ed Dickson ($795,000 APY, 47.3% snaps)
  • Brian De la Puente ($795,000 APY, 46.1% snaps)
  • Charles Brown ($795,000 APY, 34.7% snaps)
  • Arthur Moats ($795,000 APY, 34.4% snaps)
  • Jarius Wynn ($795,000 APY, 34.0% snaps)
  • Colt McCoy ($795,000 APY, 22.8% snaps)
  • Danny McCray ($795,000 APY, 16.1% snaps)
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey ($795,000 APY, 11.1% snaps)
  • Javier Arenas ($795,000 APY, 5.4% snaps)
  • Colt Anderson ($795,000 APY, 3.6% snaps)
  • Joe Webb ($795,000 APY, 2.0% snaps)
  • Andrew Gardner ($742,500 APY, 56.9% snaps)
  • Chris Cook ($730,000 APY, 4.7% snaps)

As far as in-season cuts go, because the day after Week 10 in 2014 was November 11, I am not counting Clifton Geathers (Indianapolis to Washington, cut on November 1); though, even if he did qualify it would not impact either team. However, I am counting Ben Tate (Houston to Cleveland, cut November 18), LeGarrette Blount (New England to Pittsburgh, cut November 18), and Antoine Cason (Arizona to Carolina, cut December 2).

One curious case this year could be Jonathan Dwyer, going from Pittsburgh to Arizona. Dwyer signed a $795,000 contract that qualified for the minimum salary benefit. Dwyer played in the first two weeks before being placed on the Non-Football Injury list arising from an accusation of domestic violence. I’ve yet to find a similar example in the past, but since his season ended so soon and his salary is below the $800,000 threshold I will mark him as a non-qualifying player. However, if he does qualify (in conjunction with other players not qualifying), it could impact both Pittsburgh and Arizona.

Most of the questions center around whether players will qualify at all for the formula. There are also smaller questions regarding which round certain players may be valued as, and it is likely I will be off on some of them. The main serious question mark that I see right now focuses on TJ Ward, going from Cleveland to Denver for an APY of $5.625 million. Since the projected cutoff between the fourth and fifth round is around $5.7 million, it would suggest that Ward would barely count as a 5th rounder against Denver. However, since Ward was named to the Pro Bowl it appears likely that he will end up as a 4th anyway due to the postseason honors boost. The reason this matters for Denver is because if Ward is a 5th instead of a 4th, he will cancel out a lower-valued player and give the Broncos a higher pick (explained below).

Finally, keep in mind that the closer the players are to the end of the 7th round, the more likely it is that those picks may not be awarded.  This is due to the player(s) not qualifying, or the pick being pushed below the 32-pick limit.  Therefore, compensatory picks for those players should be considered to be very much on the bubble, even if they would otherwise be eligible for compensation according to the basis of the formula.

Possible Altering Scenarios

  • Arizona
    • If Andre Roberts is valued as a 5th instead of a 6th, Arizona will receive a 5th for him instead of a 7th for Antoine Cason.
    • If Antoine Cason does not qualify, or if Jonathan Dwyer qualifies and Andre Roberts is valued as a 6th, Arizona will not get a 7th for Cason. (If Roberts is valued as a 5th Arizona still gets a 5th for him even if Dwyer qualifies.)
  • Baltimore
    • If Ed Dickson does not qualify, Baltimore will not get a 7th for him under any scenario.
  • Carolina
    • If any one of Antoine Cason, Ed Dickson or Joe Webb do not qualify, Carolina will get a 5th for Mike Mitchell.
    • If any two of Antoine Cason, Ed Dickson or Joe Webb do not qualify, Carolina will get a 5th for Mike Mitchell and a 6th for Captain Munnerlyn.
    • If all three of Antoine Cason, Ed Dickson and Joe Webb do not qualify, Carolina will get a 5th for Mike Mitchell and two 6ths for Captain Munnerlyn and Ted Ginn.
  • Cincinnati
    • If Marshall Newhouse does not qualify, Cincinnati will get a 4th for Anthony Collins.
  • Dallas
    • If either Danny McCray or Jarius Wynn do not qualify, Dallas will not get a 7th for either under any scenario.
  • Denver
    • If TJ Ward is valued as a 5th instead of a 4th, Denver will get a 4th for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie instead of a 6th for Knowshon Moreno.
  • Green Bay
    • If Marshall Newhouse does not qualify, Green Bay will not get a 7th for him under any scenario.
  • Houston
    • If Andrew Gardner does not qualify and Kendrick Lewis does qualify, Houston will not get a 6th for Joe Mays.
    • If Ben Tate does not qualify, Houston will not get a 6th for him.
  • Indianapolis
    • If Colt Anderson does not qualify, Indianapolis will get a 7th for Kavell Conner.
  • Kansas City
    • If both Kendrick Lewis and Christopher Owens do not qualify, Kansas City’s 7th will be for Akeem Jordan instead of Lewis and likely be ordered a bit higher.
  • New England
    • If LeGarrette Blount does not qualify, New England will not get a 7th for Dane Fletcher.
  • New Orleans
    • If either Brian De la Puente or Charles Brown do not qualify, New Orleans will not get a 7th for either under any scenario.
  • Pittsburgh
    • If any one of LeGarrette Blount, Arthur Moats or Darrius Heyward-Bey do not qualify, Pittsburgh will get a 7th for David Johnson.
    • If any two of LeGarrette Blount, Arthur Moats or Darrius Heyward-Bey do not qualify, Pittsburgh will get two 7ths for David Johnson and Ryan Clark.
    • If all three of LeGarrette Blount, Arthur Moats and Darrius Heyward-Bey do not qualify, Pittsburgh will get three 7ths for David Johnson, Ryan Clark, and Jerricho Cotchery.
  • San Francisco
    • If Chris Cook does not qualify, San Francisco will get a 7th for Anthony Dixon.

Team-by-Team Breakdown

Here is a team-by team breakdown of the free agents gained and lost for the 16 teams I project to have a net loss of qualifying free agents, including Dallas, even though they will not actually earn a compensatory pick due to being below the 32-pick limit. (You will see a similar breakdown in the NFL’s official release come March; see the 2014 press release as an example.)

  • Arizona
    • Lost (5): Karlos Dansby, Andre Roberts, Jim Dray, Javier Arenas (over the 32-pick limit), Antoine Cason
    • Gained (3): Jared Veldheer, Ted Ginn, Ted Larsen
  • Baltimore
    • Lost (5): Arthur Jones, Michael Oher, Corey Graham, James Ihedigbo, Ed Dickson
    • Gained (1): Darian Stewart
  • Carolina
    • Lost (4): Mike Mitchell, Captain Munnerlyn, Ted Ginn, Brandon LaFell
    • Gained (4): Jerricho Cotchery, Antoine Cason, Ed Dickson, Joe Webb
  • Cincinnati
    • Lost (2): Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins
    • Gained (1): Marshall Newhouse
  • Dallas
    • Lost (3): Jason Hatcher, Danny McCray (over the 32-pick limit), Jarius Wynn
    • Gained (2): Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey
  • Denver
    • Lost (8): Eric Decker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zane Beadles, Wesley Woodyard, Knowshon Moreno, Shaun Phillips, Robert Ayers, Jeremy Mincey (cannot be awarded more than four)
    • Gained (3): Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, Emmanuel Sanders
  • Green Bay
    • Lost (4): Evan Dietrich-Smith, James Jones, Marshall Newhouse, CJ Wilson (over the 32-pick limit)
    • Gained (0): None
  • Houston
    • Lost (5): Antonio Smith, Earl Mitchell, Ben Tate, Joe Mays, Andrew Gardner
    • Gained (1): Kendrick Lewis
  • Indianapolis
    • Lost (6): Antoine Bethea, Donald Brown, Kavell Conner, Jeff Linkenbach, Darrius Heyward-Bey (over the 32-pick limit), Cassius Vaughn (over the 32-pick limit)
    • Gained (3): Arthur Jones, Hakeem Nicks, Colt Anderson
  • Kansas City
    • Lost (8): Branden Albert, Tyson Jackson, Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz, Dexter McCluster, Quintin Demps, Akeem Jordan, Kendrick Lewis
    • Gained (4): Vance Walker, Joe Mays, Jeff Linkenbach, Christopher Owens
  • New England
    • Lost (4): Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, LeGarrette Blount
    • Gained (2): Brandon Browner, Brandon LaFell
  • New Orleans
    • Lost (3): Malcolm Jenkins, Brian De la Puente, Charles Brown
    • Gained (2): Jairus Byrd, Erik Lorig
  • Pittsburgh
    • Lost (6): Emmanuel Sanders, Ziggy Hood, Al Woods, Jerricho Cotchery, Ryan Clark, David Johnson
    • Gained (5): Mike Mitchell, Cam Thomas, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Arthur Moats, LeGarrette Blount
  • Seattle
    • Lost (7): Golden Tate, Brandon Browner, Breno Giacomini, Clinton McDonald, Walter Thurmond (cannot be awarded more than four), Paul McQuistan (cannot be awarded more than four), Chris Maragos (cannot be awarded more than four)
    • Gained (0): None
  • San Francisco
    • Lost (4): Donte Whitner, Tarell Brown, Anthony Dixon, Colt McCoy (over the 32-pick limit)
    • Gained (2): Antoine Bethea, Chris Cook
  • St. Louis
    • Lost (4): Chris Williams, Shelley Smith, Kellen Clemens, Darian Stewart
    • Gained (3): Shaun Hill, Alex Carrington, Kenny Britt