2012 Vikings NFL Draft compensatory picks

As has been discussed, the Vikings will likely have some extra draft picks to work with this year based on the NFL compensatory draft pick system that is put in place for the net loss of free agents from the previous offseason. The formula that the NFL uses for awarding the picks is a well-guarded secret that many NFL teams do not even know, but by looking back at past compensatory picks we can have a pretty good gauge of exactly what is used. And no, Sid Hartman does not have a "close personal friend" who knows what he's talking about when he suggested in a recent column that the Vikings will get two 4th rd picks as compensation. We can be almost certain of what picks the Vikings will receive. I'll explain in detail after the jump:

Before we begin, let's look at the criteria that the NFL's CBA uses to award compensatory picks:

In addition to the 32 picks in each round, there are a total of 32 picks awarded at the ends of Rounds 3 through 7. These picks, known as "compensatory picks," are awarded to teams that have lost more qualifying free agents than they gained the previous year in free agency. Teams that gain and lose the same number of players but lose higher-valued players than they gain also can be awarded a pick, but only in the seventh round, after the other compensatory picks. Compensatory picks cannot be traded, and the placement of the picks is determined by a proprietary formula based on the player's salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team, with salary being the primary factor. So, for example, a team that lost a linebacker who signed for $2.5 million per year in free agency might get a sixth-round compensatory pick, while a team that lost a wide receiver who signed for $5 million per year might receive a fourth-round pick.

If fewer than 32 such picks are awarded, the remaining picks are awarded in the order in which teams would pick in a hypothetical eighth round of the draft (These are known as "supplemental compensatory selections").

Compensatory picks are awarded each year at the NFL annual meeting which is held at the end of March; typically, about three or four weeks before the draft.

Couple of quick things:

  1. Picks are only awarded for outright Free Agents, not training camp cuts, cap cuts, etc.
  2. As the above notes, compensatory picks are awarded at the end of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th rds of the draft.
  3. It's all about NET Free Agents lost. If you lose a ProBowler but sign a 1-year bottom of the roster guy, all you end up with is a 7th rd "net value" pick, not a 3rd rder.

Again, we do not know the exact formula, but based on previous year's awarded compensatory picks we can quickly see that the formula is chiefly based on annual salary, far outweighing factors like playing time and production. The foremost online authority in this regard has been "adamjt13" who hosts a blog found here: Adamjt13 has been incredible accurate in gauging previous years' compensatory picks (only missing slightly on 5-7 of the 32 in recent years) and he believes this to be a rough calculation of the compensatory pick "value" formula (from 2009) :

Last year, regardless of playing time or postseason honors, the third-round comp players had signed for at least $6.05 million per season, the fourth-round comp players had signed for $4.45 million to $5.3 million, the fifth-round comp players had signed for $3.5 million to $4.8 million, the sixth-round comp players had signed for $1.96 million to $2.6 million, and the seventh-round comp players had signed for $1.417 million or less per season. Note that the upper range for seventh-rounders could misleading because none of last year’s comp picks were for players who signed for between $1.417 million and $1.96 million. And there was an overlap for the fourth- and fifth-round values because of differences in playing time. After reconstructing the NFL’s comp equation for 2007 using my new formula, I was able to narrow down some of last year’s cutoff points by using players who qualified for the equation but did not have a comp pick awarded for them. The value range (based solely on contract size) for fifth-rounders became $3.2 million (down from $3.5 million) to $4.8 million, for sixth-rounders became $1.96 million to $3.2 million (up from $2.6 million) and for seventh-rounders became $2.025 million or less (up from $1.417 million or less). Again, there is an overlap because of differences in playing time. You’ll notice this year’s value ranges in the list a few paragraphs below this one.

Salaries generally increase about 7% each year, so if we use that formula for this past offseason we get the following for cut-offs for FA value:

  • 3rd round value: $6.922M/yr or more
  • 4th round value: $5.095M/yr to $6.067M/yr
  • 5th round value: $4.007M/yr to $5.496M/yr
  • 6th rd value: $2.244M/yr to $2.977M/yr
  • 7th rd value: $1.622M/yr or less

So what does this mean for the Vikings? Let's take a look:

Free Agents signed:

  • Charlie Johnson; $3.5M/yr for 3 years; 6th rd value
  • Remi Ayodele; $3M/yr for 3 years; 6th rd value
  • Devin Armomashodu: $685K/yr for 1 year; 7th rd value

Free Agents lost:

  • Sidney Rice; $8.1M/yr for 5 years; 3rd rd value
  • Ray Edwards; $6M/yr for 5 years; 4th rd value
  • Tarvaris Jackson; $4M/yr for 2 years; 5th rd value
  • Ben Leber; $1.25M/yr for 1 year; 7th rd value

Remember, it is NET Free Agents lost, so we are left with:

  • Devin Aromashodu's signing cancels out the loss of Ben Leber
  • Remi Ayodele's signing cancels out the loss of Tarvaris Jackson
  • Charlie Johnson's signing cancels out the loss of Ray Edwards

We get the value of Sidney Rice (3rd rder) as well as a 7th rd compensatory pick for "net value lost". Sidenote; this is a major problem with the NFL compensatory system. If you lost 4 ProBowl level Free Agents but signed 4 Free Agent players that barely make the active roster you would essentially just get 1 compensatory pick at the end of the 7th round; a "net value" pick. The system needs changing. Additional sidenote; the Vikings could have played this better. Essentially if they had signed 2 cap casualties similar Ayodele, Aromashodu or Johnson instead, we'd have 3rd rd, 4th rd, 5th rd, and 7th rd compensatory picks instead of just a 3rd and a 7th.

I will be doing this for the entire NFL shortly so we can have a "full" draft, but essentially the Vikings should get compensatory picks at the end of the 3rd and 7th rds of the 2012 NFL Draft, to be awarded in March of 2012. In addition, there are 32 compensatory picks awarded each year. If there are less than 32 picks awarded based on the Free Agency period then the extra picks go the teams that would begin an "8th round" of the NFL draft. So if there are only 29 net free agents compensatory picks and net value picks, the Vikings would gain one more compensation pick (Mr. Irrelevant) since they would hold the 3rd pick if the NFL had an "8th round".
I hope this helps everyone's understanding of the NFL compensatory picks. Any questions or comments please just let me know below.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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