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Compensatory Picks Explained

With free agency well underway I thought I’d do an article about compensatory picks and explain exactly what they are as well as what Seattle can likely expect in 2019.

Firstly, what are compensatory picks?

Better known as ‘comp picks’, a total of 32 comp picks are awarded to teams that lose more (or better) players to free agency than they sign. The NFL has a formula that is predominantly based around ‘average salary per year’ but also includes things like snap counts and playoff performance, but as mentioned, it is predominantly based around the players average salary per year.

Here’s some key notes of importance on comp picks -

  • A maximum of 4 comp picks can be awarded to each team

  • If a team loses 4 players but also signs 4, they can still be awarded comp picks, but only in the 7th round

  • Cut players don’t count in the formula, nor do players resigning with their previous team

  • Comp picks are awarded between the 3rd and 7th round

Seattle have lost loads of players, they must be due lots of comp picks?

Very possible. Remember though, Richard Sherman was cut and Michael Bennett was traded so neither of them can gain a comp pick, as both Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham were unrestricted free agents they will be considered for comp picks awarded to Seattle. However, if the team signs Austin Seferian-Jenkins for example, that will very likely cancel one of the comp picks out. The biggest question mark is Sheldon Richardson, if the team chooses to let him walk, that will very likely be a highly awarded pick.

Seattle currently has 15 unrestricted free agents, however that number will likely rise as any RFA or ERFA that doesn’t get tendered will become UFA.

So what do the teams comp picks look like as of now?

As it stands, for Seattle to be in with a chance of getting a 3rd round comp pick Sheldon Richardson will have to get more than $12,200,000 average per year.

Comp picks for the 3rd round currently stand as follows –

#1 Washington Redskins for Kirk Cousins - $28,000,000 APY

#2 Minnesota Vikings for Case Keenum - $18,000,000 APY

#3 LA Rams for Sammy Watkins - $16,000,000 APY

#4 LA Rams for Trumaine Johnson - $15,000,000 APY

#5 Carolina panthers for Andrew Norwell - $13,333,333 APY

#6 New England Patriots Malcolm Butler - $12,200,000 APY

As you can see, a Sheldon Richardson contract would have to top the Malcolm Butler contract to get a 3rd round comp pick. I wouldn’t totally rule that out however with a lot of cash spent already, I suspect he will likely get less than $12M APY but I could be wrong.

Paul Richardson and Jimmy Grahams contracts are looking likely to be 4th round comp picks each, this obviously isn’t guaranteed and things could change, but as it stands now, I’m confident that will remain the case dependant on what Seattle does with any outside free agents.

As far as loosing other UFA’s a very rough guide would be as follows –

Player X gets between $2M and $3M you can expect a 7th round comp pick

Player X gets between $3 and $5M you can expect a 6th round comp pick

Player X gets between $5M and $8M you can expect a 5th round comp pick

Player X gets between $8M and 12M you can expect a 4th round comp pick

Player X gets over $12M you can expect a 3rd round comp pick

Obviously the above is a rough guide so take that as you will, but I’m confident it will be, for the most part, accurate.

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