How does the NFL give Compensatory Draft Picks?

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How does the NFL give Compensatory Draft Picks?

Postby SirSmizzy » Sun Feb 15, 2004 1:53 pm

Each year there are dozens of draft selections doled out about a month before the draft rolls around. There is always much speculation around these picks... How is a FA loss graded? Who qualifies? What cancels a loss out? In the end, it seems no one knows who will receive a boon or a snub from the league... Yes, I’m talking about compensatory draft picks....

I've been following the patterns of compensation picks for the past few years, going back to the 2000 NFL Draft. The most solid definition one can get when it comes to assigning compensatory picks is the following:

“Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.”

Well, that doesn’t tell us anything, now does it? Here’s what I’ve been able to put together – albeit loosely – about the awarding of NFL Compensatory Draft Picks.

“Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.”

It seems that only an UFA (Not a RFA) that is acquired / lost prior to the June 1st UFA tender deadline will be eligible in the compensation equation. Also, non-rostered players seem to be ineligible for compensation, as are those who retire prior to the regular season starting. There seems to be some speculation as to whether or not previously acquired free agents are eligible for compensation if lost. As far as I can see, they are in fact considered and rewarded. Charlie Garner as an example in 2002 was acquired by SF from Philly in ’99 and then was acquired by Oak from SF in ’02. The latter transaction resulted in SF being given a 5th round compensatory pick for him. (He earned 1.5M Annually & started 15 Games w/ a Post-Season start)

Next in line after figuring out who is eligible or not, it’s time to figure out what they’re worth. In terms of the formula, the first element that determined one’s worth is salary. The simplest breakdown I’ve been able to muster at this point is by breaking down the Annual Worth of a contract over time. It seems this is a relatively strong base-factor in all the cases I’ve seen so far.

Average Annual Salary via Free Agency
Value 250k ... 1.00M ~ 7th Round
Value 1.01M ... 2.00M ~ 6th Round
Value 2.01M ... 3.50M ~ 5th Round
Value 3.51M ... 5.00M ~ 4th Round
Value 5.01+ Million ~ 3rd Round.

Now this is just the basis for classification. There are still two more huge factors.

Playing Time. As far as I can tell, playing time helps you if you’ve got a lot of it, and really hurts if there’s none of it. The formula I’ve employed to this point is as follows:
Playing 0 Games = -2.0M Value

Playing 0 to 5 Games = -1.0M Value

Starting 0 to 4 & Playing 6+ = -500k Value

Starting 5 to 10 Games = No Change

Starting 10 to 15 Games = +500k Value

Starting 16 Games = +1.0M Value
So... A player earning 5.25M who plays in 0 Games would be worth only 3.25M and instead of cashing in as a 3rd round compensation – he’d be worth only a 5th rounder. However, not only is starting 16 Games always enough to send a 7th rounder to a 6th, and a 6th rounder to a 5th, it’s usually enough to escalate one who would be a 5th rounder to a 4th, and 4th to 3rd.

Post Season Honors. Again, this is sketchy at best, but the bonuses as I’ve best been able to determine, affect the following situations as follows (post-season awards are cumulative):
Being Voted to Pro-Bowl: +1.0 M to Value

Being Selected Pro-Bowl Alternate: +500k to Value

Post-Season Starting Role: +250k to Value

Conf Champion Team: +250k to Value

Super Bowl Champion Team: +500k to Value
In this case, a player making league minimum (250k), who has a breakout season, starting all 16 games, being voted to the pro-bowl and on a SB championship team would actually be worth 3.25M in compensation – still only escalating him to a 5th round pick. A player like Simeon Rice, who had an average contract value of 4.0M was boosted to a worth of 5.25M due to a playoff start and starting all 16 regular season games. Concurrently, he was one of the few worth a 3rd round compensation selection. That same year, Ross Verba was acquired via free agency and had an average salary of 4.0M – just like Rice – but had no playoff appearance and only started in 15 Games. His value wasn’t high enough to get the Packers a 3rd rounder – instead they were rewarded a 4th round compensation.

Now, after all is said and done, I know this formula isn’t dead-on accurate. There are flaws, and I think the last person who was thorough in testing it only figured it was about 85% accurate for the projected round, but became 99% accurate within +/- 1 Round. Here’s two examples of this year’s upcoming ’04 Compensatory Draft Picks pertaining to the Jets.

Randy Thomas (7Y/28M = 4.0M Avg.) + 1.0M (16 Starts) = 5.0M (4th Round)
John Hall (5Y/7.1M = 1.4M Avg.) + 1.0M (16 Starts) = 2.4M (5th Round)

The Jets also have comps coming due from R Andersen (Dal) and J Darling (Ari), but will have them most likely balance with acquisitions of Conway (SD) and Ty Carter (Min). Damien Robinson (Sea) will, unfortunately, not give us any compensation as he was released (non-rostered), but similarly, we won’t have to give up and compensation for Doug Brien, Chester McGlockton or Dan Stryzinski for the same reasons. Also, Nutten will not affect us having retired before the season opened.

Oh, and I heard rumors that R Thomas was named to the Pro-Bowl replacement squad for OL. If that's true, he'll most likely be worth a 3rd round compensation pick!

So, I hope this may as least help to get some of you closer to answering the question, “How many compensation picks, and where, will my team get this year?” If anyone has a more solid formula, or notices large discrepancies while applying this – please post about it. Hopefully we can refine this for the future
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Postby skinsfaninroanoke » Sun Feb 15, 2004 2:29 pm

Thanks Smiz :)

I think this will clear up a lot of the mystery along with the RFA, EFA compensation...
Rich in Roanoke
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