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Washington appears poised to have two compensatory picks in 2023

Good deal!

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As of yesterday (5/2), after 4pm any free agents signed by NFL teams no longer count against team’s compensatory pick count. Prior to the draft, Over the Cap (who seems to be the gold standard on this topic) had the Commanders at two compensatory picks in the 2023 draft.

The comp pick capital was gained by letting Brandon Scherff and Tim Settle walk in free agency for contracts that were sufficiently large - $16.5M and $4.5M APY, respectively - that they met the compensatory pick cut off threshold. DeAndre Carter, who signed a $1.14M/yr contract, was not sufficiently highly compensated to qualify.

The other side of the compensatory pick calculation involves the signing of free agents who might “cancel” the compensatory picks generated by Scherff and Settle. The Commanders were sufficiently mindful on that front, and had only signed their own free agents (Leno, Lucas, Slye, etc.), free agents from other teams who had been cut (e.g., Andrew Norwell), and those who don’t figure into the mix.

Presumably, the report of Trai Turner’s signing yesterday, which could have cancelled out the Settle pick if it was made before 4pm, was not officially consummated until after that time, so as to preserve the pick.

Comp Pick Superlatives

Each team has the opportunity to collect up to 4 compensatory picks in this fashion for each draft - the compensatory picks for developing minority hires use a separate mechanism - and this year, three teams appear poised to hit that mark: the Rams, the Dolphins, and the Jaguars.

Within the NFC East, the Cowboys are in line for 3 comp picks, and the Giants entitled to two. The Eagles are not in line to receive any comp picks next year.

Washington’s History with Comp Picks

Historically, Washington has been one of the worst teams in the league at accumulating compensatory picks. From 1994, when the compensatory pick process was instituted, to 2018, Washington had the second fewest comp picks in the league, 12 (the Saints only had 10). In 2019, Washington had an amazing 4 comp picks (Cousins, Murphy, Grant, Paul), with one in 2020 (Crowder), and none in 2021 or 2022.

In isolation that number, 17 comp picks in 28 years may not mean much, but contrast it with the league-leading Baltimore Ravens, and the gulf is stark. In the same timeframe, the Ravens have accumulated 56 compensatory picks, or 39 more than Washington. That’s over 1 more draft pick per year, for nearly 30 years.

As Eric DeCosta, the Ravens’ GM says, the draft is about having more lottery tickets, which they’ve reliably done year after year.

Kudos to the Front Office

Ron and the Martys deserve credit for getting into the compensatory pick game and showing the discipline not to jeopardize the picks they generated with the loss of free agents.

It’s tough losing good players, but getting value for them on the way out the door is the way the best teams operate. For far too long in DC, the front office has failed repeatedly at one of the more important free agency era “games within the game.” Good work.

NFL: Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Looking Forward

Taking a look at Washington’s roster, who might generate comp pick capital for them next offseason? The most likely, in my opinion, is Daron Payne, who will be a free agent next year, and should command a solid salary. Other possibilities include Wes Schweitzer and Cole Holcomb, if either, or both, were allowed to walk.

Washington’s 2023 Picks

As it currently stands, Washington has 8 picks in the 2023 draft:

Round 1, Round 2 (unless Wentz plays MORE than 70% of snaps), Round 3 (unless Wentz plays LESS than 70% of snaps), Round 3 comp pick, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 7 comp pick.


How many comp picks would you like to see Washington generate in an average year?

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