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February 14, 2017

How many compensatory picks should the Eagles expect to receive this year?

Eagles NFL

None. If you clicked on this hoping for a more satisfying answer, well, got eeem! 

This is a question that I get so often, however, I selfishly decided last year that it would be far more time-efficient to just write a post on it to explain the basic mechanics of compensatory picks than to answer it a hundred more times leading up to the draft. We'll do the same once again this year.

Every year, the NFL awards 32 compensatory picks to teams that lost more players than they gained the previous year in free agency. If you are unfamiliar with the basic rules in which teams are awarded those 32 comp picks, they are:

  1. Each player signed cancels out one player lost. In other words, just because the Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin during the 2015 offseason, that did not mean they were awarded a compensatory pick in 2016. Since the Eagles signed more players than they lost, they didn't get jack squat for losing Maclin.
  2. The round of the pick awarded is primarily determined by the annual value of the contract signed. In other words, if the Eagles had gotten a pick for Maclin last year, it would have been in a higher round than, say, Nate Allen, who didn't sign as lucrative of a contract. Signed players cancel out lost players with equal contracts, then lower contracts, before canceling out higher contracts. 

Here are the four types of players who do not qualify for compensatory picks:

  1. Lost players that are cut or not tendered as RFAs (restricted free agents) and ERFAs (exclusive rights free agents) do not qualify.
  2. Lost players that were picked up during the season the year before do not qualify.
  3. Signed players that are released before midseason do not qualify.
  4. Players earning low minimum salaries do not qualify. 

In 2016, the only qualifying free agent signing who left the Eagles for a new team was Cedric Thornton. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles went on a free agent signing binge, as they normally do, acquiring compensatory-qualifying players such as Rodney McLeod, Brandon Brooks, Chase Daniel, Nigel Bradham, Ron Brooks, and Stefen Wisniewski.

Long story short, the Eagles acquired far more players in free agency who qualified for comp picks than they lost, and thus will not be awarded any of the 32 freebies handed out by the league at the owner's meetings in March.

On a side note, while I fashion myself as something of a compensatory pick expert, in that I can confidently and embarrassingly claim that I know more about them than 99.9999% of the population, can we please just do away with them already, NFL? I mean, what's the point?

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