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Does Anyone Understand NFL Compensatory Picks?

January 29, 2010 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

Well, unless you count the Pro Bowl as a real football game, we’ve got a couple of weeks off until the Splendid Bowl, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to think about some off-field pigskin issues.

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be a football savant, but luckily that doesn’t matter because I’m smart enough to surround myself with people who do fall into that category.

However, one thing in particular that really confuses me is the NFL’s system of compensatory picks – awarded at the end of rounds 3 through 7 to team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquired in the previous year.

There are 32 compensatory draft picks in total, mirroring the number of NFL teams, and the most any team can receive is four each year.

There’s a formula used to determine who gets what that was developed by the NFL Management Council. If anyone knows exactly how the hell that formula works, by all means, clue us in!

The Bengals have really benefited from this system, tying for the league lead with four picks in each of the past two years, but they aren’t expected to receive more than two picks in 2010 (compensatory picks are announced during the NFL annual meeting in late March).

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According to AdamJT13, who runs a blog on all things NFL compensatory pick related:

“Compensatory free agents are determined by a secret formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. Not every free agent lost or signed is covered by the formula.

“Although the formula has never been revealed, by studying the compensatory picks that have been awarded since they began in 1994, I’ve determined that the primary factor in the value of the picks awarded is the average annual value of the contract the player signed with his new team, with an adjustment for playing time and a smaller adjustment for postseason honours. It should be noted that the contract values used in the equation seemingly do not include things such as workout bonuses, incentives and conditional bonuses. (Also, keep in mind that the contract figures reported in the media often are incorrect.) And the playing time used in the equation seemingly is the percentage of offensive or defensive snaps played.

“A simple method of determining for which qualifying free agents a team will be compensated is this – for every player acquired, cancel out a lost player of similar value. For example, consider a team that loses one qualifying player whose value would bring a third-round compensatory pick and another qualifying player whose value would bring a sixth-round compensatory pick but signs a qualifying player whose value would be in the range of a third-round pick. That team would receive a sixth-round compensatory pick because the signed player would cancel out the loss of the higher-valued player. If the signed player’s value was equal to a fourth-round pick or lower, however, the team would receive a third-round compensatory pick, because the signed player would cancel out the loss of the lower-valued player.”

There you have it, folks, Any questions?

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