As some of you know, every year I try to predict the compensatory picks that will be awarded around the league due to free agent losses and signings. This year I decided to write a separate post on the Giants because they have a few players that are interesting cases or have unknown situations, which results in a lengthy explanation.
A brief description of compensatory pick rules. To qualify for consideration in the calculations the player cannot have been cut by his previous team, nor can he have failed to have been offered an exclusive rights or restricted tender if eligible. They had to be on the roster of the previous team for the entire last season. They have to remain on the new team's roster until approximately week 8-10 (this is not an exact science - the true term length is unknown). They must make a minimum amount of money, which is variable based upon the amount of snaps they play (these numbers are also unknown). The amount of money they make, averaged over the life of the contract, determines their draft round value. You receive a compensatory pick for every qualified player lost in excess of the number of qualified players signed, up to a maximum of four. If the number of qualified players lost and signed is equal, you can receive a 7th round "net value" pick for losing more valuable players than you signed. The exact rules are not published by the NFL. We do not even know if there are rules for the unknowns. The teams know the basic requirements, but even they are left in the dark on the specifics.
The potential candidates involved in 2014 comprehensive pick projection are:
Osi Umenyiora - 2 years, $8.5 million
Martellus Bennett - 4 years, $20.4 million
Chase Blackburn - 2 years, $2 million
Domenik Hixon - 1 year, $1.2 million
Lawrence Tynes - 1 year, $840,000
Brandon Myers - 4 years, $14.25 million
Josh Brown - 1 year, $940,000
Ryan Mundy - 1 year, $780,000
Louis Murphy - 1 year, $715,000
Thank you Dave Gettleman for keeping us in this game.
Osi Umenyiora is the only player lost that is a question mark for qualification. He was supposedly given a new contract in 2012 which made 2013 an "option" year. The question is whether declining the "option" year counts as cutting him. I am saying yes. It was the team's choice to not keep him, so I cannot see compensating the Giants for the loss. In addition, it looks like one of the purposes of the contract was to spread out the cap hit of the signing bonus when we "gifted" him extra money in 2012, so for some purpose 2013 was not an option. Therefore in this analysis I will not count Umenyiora as a qualified player.
Lawrence Tynes was signed by another team, but is not a qualifying player. That is because he was signed in mid-July, after the end of the "official" free agency period. Did you know the free agency period ends? Most people do not, because it is mostly irrelevant. June 1 is the deadline for a team to claim any rights over a former player. Unrestricted free agents can be tendered by their old team before this date, which means that for 105% of their previous salary they cannot negotiate with other teams after July 22. Of course, this information is useless to you, since no teams tender their unrestricted free agents. The June 1 date is also the last day for a signed player to be counted in comp pick calculations. After June 1, unsigned, non-tendered players are completely free to sign anywhere without repercussions to their new or former team. So free agency does not really end, it's just that the NFL now cares less about you.
Brandon Myers has a similar contract situation to Osi, with supposedly every year beyond this year counted as an "option" year. This spread out the cap hit of his sizable signing bonus. His actual annual salary is quite low. Basically, we had cash to pay him but not cap room. For the same reasons as Umenyiora, I will count Myers as a "cut" if he does not play all four years here. For 2014, the question becomes whether the "option" years are counted in the value of the contract, because this affects his draft round value. Counting the full contract terms would be consistent with my previous findings for Osi, so I will do that.
Louis Murphy is making $715,000. The same salary as Phillip Wheeler made last year with the Raiders, when he became the lowest-paid player to ever qualify for compensatory pick equations. The big difference between these two players is that Wheeler was a starter for his team that played nearly every single defensive snap. That is rare for players on a one-year contract this low. Players with higher salaries that played less snaps were not counted. Therefore I will not be counting Murphy as a qualified player. He finished the year with fewer than 100 snaps.
Josh Brown makes enough money to qualify. However, he only played in four games for Cincinnati in 2012. He was a late-season pickup when Cincy's regular kicker was injured. Therefore he is not considered a loss by the Bengals or a signing by the Giants.
Ryan Mundy is the last of the complicated situations, and the one prediction that is a real question mark. At this point, without Mundy, I have three qualified players lost (Bennett, Hixon, Blackburn) and one qualified player signed (Myers). Mundy is signed for $780,000. He has played 667 snaps. I have two qualifying players with slightly higher salaries over the last two years for comparison purposes. Barry Richardson played 1000+ snaps for St. Louis in 2012 on a salary of $800,000. The money is close but he was a starter. Maybe more relevant is Keyaron Fox, who signed for $810,000 in 2011 and played only 51 snaps in Washington. That was an unexpected qualifying player based upon previous history, but I have noticed some changes under the new CBA. Based on all of the players that qualified or did not qualify over the past two years, I am guessing that Mundy does count. That would leave us with three lost and two signed players.
Myers' contract, with an average of $3.5625 million per year, is solidly in the compensation range of a 6th round pick value. I believe Bennett, with an average contract value of $5.1 million per year, would have a 5th round pick value. The remaining qualifying contracts would have 7th round values. The compensatory pick rules state that signed contracts cancel out lower contracts before higher contracts. So Myers would knock out Hixon's 7th round value, and the Blackburn and Mundy 7ths would cancel out, leaving us with a 5th for Bennett. If Mundy is not a qualified player, then we would get a 7th round comp pick in addition to the 5th.
The one concern would be if Bennett's contract is valued as a 6th rounder. Then Myers would cancel him out, and we would gain a 7th round pick (or two 7ths if Mundy does not qualify). Bennett is on the lower end of the 5th round spectrum. There are four contracts from last year for a value comparison. The Ravens received a 5th round pick for losing Jarrett Johnson on a $19 million, 4-year deal to San Diego. The same length as Bennett for a little bit less, with an average value of $4.75 million. The Titans received a 6th round pick for losing Jason Jones on a 1-year, $4.5 million deal to Seattle, showing the bottom of the range. The Falcons received a 4th round pick for losing Curtis Lofton on a 5-year, $27.5 million deal ($5.5 million average) to New Orleans. But the Dolphins received only a 5th for losing Kendall Langford to the Rams on a $24 million, 4-year deal ($6 million average). This is a good illustration of the problems in predicting comp picks. The NFL does not tell us why a higher contract returns a lower pick. My only guess here would be snap counts. Lofton had 1143 snaps for New Orleans, while Langford had 766 for St. Louis. On a side note, I don't ever think I have seen a snap count that high before. New Orleans' defense just could not get off the field.
As a little added bonus, here are Jerry Reese's comp picks over the years:
2013 - 7th - Michael Cox, RB, UMass
2011 - 6th - Tyler Sash, S, Iowa
2011 - 6th - Jacquian Williams, LB, South Florida
2007 - 7th - Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Marshall
Not a bad list. Every one of them made the team. Also note how often we get comp picks. Teams are constantly signing more of our guys than we are signing of theirs. It looks like other GMs like the rosters that Reese assembles.