I’ve long felt that the Redskins front office didn’t do enough to manage compensatory picks in free agency.
Click here to read: The 5 O’Clock Club: Explaining how compensatory draft picks work (Updated 25 Feb)
They took it to the other extreme last year, doing seemingly everything in their power to protect the team’s comp pick haul.
I personally have a somewhat cynical view of their motivation; I think they were afraid of making a free agency signing that would offset the 3rd round pick the team knew it would qualify for with Cousins being the Pearl of the 2018 offseason. Can you imagine the uproar that would have ensued if Cousins had walked and the team had gotten absolutely nothing at all in return? That 3rd rounder is a face-saving fig leaf of sorts, and I think that Dan, Bruce, Doug and the gang decided that it simply would not do to lose it.
The perhaps unexpected upside of that is that the team seems to have a sudden awareness that there is an opportunity to add as many as four draft picks per year as free gifts from the NFL if they manage the free agency period in a certain way.
Click here to read: Potential Strategies for Optimizing 2020 Comp Picks
Click here to read: An Obsession With Comp Picks
As things turned out, the Redskins were awarded four extra draft picks this off-season that will provide draft capital that can be expended in just a few weeks, at the end of April. The final tally was a third, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh round pick. One potential 5th round pick was offset by the signing of Paul Richardson, and another 7th rounder was not awarded to the Redskins for losing Will Compton because the NFL caps teams at a maximum of four compensatory picks in any given off-season. (Also, only 32 comp picks are awarded league-wide, so it is possible for a team to get less than 4 picks, even if the team would have qualified for the maximum number).
The 2020 quest
A question arose in my mind about how the Redskins front office was faring in the quest for 2020 compensatory picks.
Complex Calculations and OverTheCap
The calculation of compensatory pick awards is very complex; I don’t pretend to understand it.
Fortunately, I don’t need to. The fellows at OverTheCap understand how the system works, and they publish a handy reference chart that gets updated every time they get the contract details on a qualifying free agent.
Not every free agent qualifies
For example, if a player’s contract expires, he may count as a qualifying free agent for comp picks, but if he is cut by the team, he is not counted. This means that signing a player who is cut (a non-qualifying free agent) may provide an advantage over a player who’s contract simply expires, sending him into free agency.
If we’re talking pass rushers, for example, Justin Houston, who played 27 games for the Kansas City Chiefs over the past two seasons, was released by the team. If the Redskins (say) signed him, then he would NOT cause the team to lose any accrued compensatory picks.
By contrast, signing (say) Shane Ray, who just completed his rookie contract with the Denver Broncos, the team that drafted him in 2015 and declined his 5th year option, would likely offset a compensatory pick that the Redskins would otherwise have gained.
When weighing up factors like performance, age, salary, etc, one advantage to put on Justin Houston’s side of the ledger would be that he wouldn’t jeopardize any potential comp picks. If Shane Ray is clearly the better choice for the team on other factors, you simply sign him and be done with it, but if the decision is close between them, then the opportunity to protect draft capital by signing Houston might be the difference maker.
Signing late in the off-season
Beyond a certain date, late in the offseason, free agents who sign with teams don’t count against the compensatory picks.
Teams that are playing chess, like the Patriots, will almost annually sign a player or two after the deadline (rather than before) to protect other potential compensatory picks.
Low-dollar free agents
Free agents on low-dollar contracts may not count in the formula.
Players who sign veteran minimum contracts, for example, absolutely don’t qualify. So, if a player leaves the Redskins and signs for vet min somewhere else, the ‘Skins don’t gain a comp pick for that player. By the same token, signing a player to a vet min contract doesn’t jeopardize any other potential picks the team might otherwise be awarded.
A contract doesn’t have to be vet minimum in order to NOT qualify; it simply has to be below the 7th-round pick threshold. The threshold salaries change annually.
What does the OverTheCap chart say today (18 March 2018)?
The answer to this question is likely to change (perhaps several times) before the day is out since the chart is updated each time OTC gets the details on a qualifying veteran free agent — and at this time of year, that means multiple daily updates.
I should stress that all of these are simply educated projections, and not set in stone. But at the time of writing, here is a look at the relative positions of the teams:
- Panthers - OTC has Carolina projected to get 4 picks, though only one of the projected picks has been fully calculated. OTC has them with a 6th rounder + three To Be Announced (which means they could still fail to qualify if they are low-dollar deals).
- Seahawks - OTC projects Seattle with: 3rd, 4th, 7th, and one TBA
- Patriots - Two 3rds & a 6th
- Eagles - a 3rd & two 4ths
- Redskins - a 4th, a 5th & a 6th (3rd for Preston Smith cancelled by Landon Collins)
- Texans - a 3rd & two 7ths
- Giants - a 3rd & two 7ths
It appears that the Redskins would currently rank about 5th in overall value of Compensatory Picks likely to be awarded for the 2020 draft if the situation were frozen at this moment in time.
I’ve checked several times this morning on Twitter, Spotrac, Hogs Haven and OverTheCap to see if there have been any updates on the DRC contract.
If, as I personally suspect, he has signed for vet minimum, then none of the Redskins projected 2020 compensatory picks would be in jeopardy.
If, however, he signed a contract worth $2.5 or $3.5m (similar to the Orlando Scandrick contract last year), then the Redskins would be in danger of losing the 6th round pick they currently expect to qualify for based on HaHa Clinton-Dix signing with the Bears.
Which of the following most closely describes your attitude toward compensatory picks?
This poll is closed
I see them as a valuable resource that should be carefully considered in every free agency decision
Yeah, they have value if you get them, but they shouldn’t be considered when deciding whether or not to sign a player in free agency
Frankly, I don’t give a damn about them