Per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal:
These corrections by the NFL Management Council mean that what I thought was my biggest miss in projecting the 2021 compensatory picks ended up being a correct projection on my part. I had thought the value of Damiere Byrd’s contract would not qualify against the Patriots, and that it would thus not cost them an additional comp pick on top of the 3rd and 4th rounders they had been awarded without any controversy for the departures of Tom Brady and Kyle Van Noy (the latter of who’s already back on the Patriots). The initial release of the comp picks by the NFL Management Council said otherwise, but now they have backtracked.
There are two possible reasons for this. One could have been that the qualification cutoff just needed to be nudged a little bit higher to disqualify Byrd’s contract, even at $1.9 million APY. However, I believe that is not the case, as it would cause misalignment in the valuation of other comp picks. Specifically, it is because the Patriots are only getting a 5th rounder for Jamie Collins’s departure, and not a 4th as I had projected. That valuation indicates that one thing that I still got wrong was that I had the wrong number of leaguewide players considered in the formula, regularly the most difficult aspect of projecting compensatory picks.
Instead, I am guessing that the NFL Management Council decided not to count the $300,000 in incentives that Byrd earned on the season. Further evidence of this comes from Michael Signora stating that the correction was “to the calculation of average yearly compensation”. Although Appendix V, Section 2(a) states that incentives “that are earned by the player in the first League Year of the contract” will count, my guess is that this was overridden by Paragraph 11, which allows for teams to designate signed unrestricted free agents as “Excluded UFAs” that automatically disqualify the player from qualifying as a compensatory free agent (CFA). Byrd’s base compensation was for $1.6 million, which fell below the threshold of $1.75 to qualify for Excluded UFA status. However, study into future similar contracts, where the base is below the threshold but adding earned incentives pushes it above, will be needed to verify whether this is the case.
Further evidence that there were miscalculations on the NFL Management Council’s part with regard to APY was an error in where one of the Falcons’ picks were placed. This one is easier to explain. I am guessing that they erroneously counted a $500,000 incentive in De’Vondre Campbell’s contract that would have been awarded had the Cardinals made the playoffs. I had added it in as a way to get Campbell to be placed in the right order, but since the Cardinals did not make the playoffs, clearly that was not earned by Campbell.
The lucky beneficiary of these errors were the Bears. Had the Patriots been properly awarded with a comp pick for Collins’s departure, Chicago’s second 6th rounder would have missed the 32 pick limit. However, the NFLPA was willing to relent on the 32 pick limit, and retain the awarding of that Bears pick.
Changes to my evaluation of the 2021 compensatory picks projection will be made to account for these corrections.