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2020 NFL Draft: Compensatory pick projections for every team

Teams tend to treasure draft picks like gold, and compensatory draft picks aren't treated any differently. In fact, the idea of allowing a top free agent to walk in exchange for a compensatory draft pick has picked up steam in recent years as teams look for the best way to construct their rosters for sustained success. Organizations have parlayed compensatory picks into some highly valuable selections -- the Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott and Pittsburgh Steelers' James Conner are a couple of recent examples.

So, how do compensatory picks work?

The number of compensatory picks allotted each year is limited to the number of teams in the league (32). However, compensatory picks are not divvied up equally among the teams, and no team can receive more than four compensatory picks in a single year. To qualify for compensatory picks, teams must end up with more compensatory free agents lost than gained in a particular year.

Teams are awarded compensatory draft picks between Rounds 3 and 7 based upon a formula, which is not released by the league, that takes into account a player's average salary per year (APY), snap count and postseason awards. While there is an expected level of compensation for a player based on the amount he has signed for, his playing time (or lack thereof) in the upcoming season could alter the expectation.

The compensatory picks for the 2020 draft won't be determined by the NFL Management Council's formula until after the 2019 season is over, but in this post, I'll attempt to project who will be receiving compensatory picks next year and the round in which those picks could fall.

Keep in mind: To qualify as a compensatory free agent, players need to have been signed as unrestricted free agents before May 8, be on their team's roster for at least 10 weeks of the regular season and rank in the top 50 percent of the NFL's compensatory-pick formula. Players who were released by their previous team are not eligible for the formula.



Projected compensatory picks: Two in Round 3; two in Round 6.
Key free-agent losses:Trey Flowers (Lions); Trent Brown (Raiders); Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears); Malcom Brown (Saints).
Key free-agent additions: None.
Comp-pick analysis: The formula is very straightforward here, with the Patriots losing seven qualifying free agents and gaining just three low-priced additions. New England is quite familiar with allowing high-priced free agents to walk and later receiving compensatory picks for them. They are in almost the same spot as last year, with four headed their way.


Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 3, 4, 6 and 7.
Key free-agent losses:Earl Thomas (Ravens); Justin Coleman (Lions).
Key free-agent additions:Jason Myers (Jets); Mike Iupati (Cardinals).
Comp-pick analysis: The Legion of Boom is completely kaput, with Earl Thomas having departed for Baltimore, but the Seahawks will likely get a third-round comp pick in return. Justin Coleman's contract with the Lions should bring a fourth-round selection, since the addition of Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers is not on the financial level to cancel out that loss. Shamar Stephen (Vikings) is among the other players who could net Seattle a late-rounder. In the end, I foresee the Seahawks gaining the maximum compensatory picks (four) next offseason.



Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 3, 4 and 5.
Key free-agent losses:C.J. Mosley (Jets); Za'Darius Smith (Packers); John Brown (Bills); Terrell Suggs (Cardinals).
Key free-agent additions: Earl Thomas (Seahawks); Mark Ingram (Saints).
Comp-pick analysis: The Ravens are losing their top tackler (C.J. Mosley), top sack men (Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs) and leader in receiving yards (John Brown), but three comp picks will be headed their way. The loss of Mosley will be counteracted by the signing of Earl Thomas, but the departures of Smith and Brown should bring third- and fourth-round picks, respectively. Baltimore got 132.5 sacks from Suggs over his 16-year career, and the Ravens could receive a fifth-rounder for him as a comp pick.


Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 3, 6 and 7.
Key free-agent losses:Sheldon Richardson (Browns); Nick Easton (Saints); Latavius Murray (Saints).
Key free-agent additions:Shamar Stephen (Seahawks).
Comp-pick analysis: The Vikings lost eight qualifying free agents while signing only one, but they are expected to land three picks as some of their losses won't have APY totals high enough to make it into the top 32 comp picks. Sheldon Richardson was in the key free-agent additions column last year, but now he should fetch the Vikings a third-round pick as long as the Browns use him as expected. Tom Compton (Jets) has an outside shot at bringing in a seventh-rounder for the Vikings.



Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 6; one in Round 7.
Key free-agent losses:Bradley Roby (Texans); Matt Paradis (Panthers); Billy Turner (Packers).
Key free-agent additions:Ja'Wuan James (Dolphins); Kareem Jackson (Texans); Bryce Callahan (Bears).
Comp-pick analysis: The Broncos' three free-agent signings listed above will cancel out their top three losses, but the departures of Shaquil Barrett (Bucs) and Max Garcia (Cardinals) should fetch them a sixth- and seventh-round pick, respectively. The departures of Tramaine Brock to Arizona and Brandon Marshall to Oakland give the Broncos a chance to land another seventh-rounder or two.


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 7.
Key free-agent losses:Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs); Kareem Jackson (Broncos).
Key free-agent additions:Bradley Roby (Broncos).
Comp-pick analysis: The additions of Tashaun Gipson and Matt Kalil do not count against the Texans, as Gipson and Kalil were released by their former teams. The signing of Bradley Roby will count against the Texans, though, and he cancels out the loss of Kareem Jackson. This leaves the Texans with a third-rounder for Tyrann Mathieu and a seventh-rounder for Kendall Lamm (Browns). It's possible that they will get one additional seventh-rounder from the loss of Christian Covington (Cowboys).


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 4.
Key free-agent losses:Rodger Saffold (Titans); Lamarcus Joyner (Raiders); C.J. Anderson (Lions).
Key free-agent additions:Clay Matthews (Packers).
Comp-pick analysis: General manager Les Snead continues to play the comp-pick game as a way to add draft capital to restock his roster. Rodger Saffold is teetering between a third- and fourth-round designation, but if he proves to be durable and solid in creating lanes for Derrick Henry, he could bring in the higher value. The loss of Lamarcus Joyner is likely to net the Rams a fourth-round comp selection.


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 5.
Key free-agent losses:Ja'Wuan James (Broncos); Cameron Wake (Titans).
Key free-agent additions:Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buccaneers); Eric Rowe (Patriots).
Comp-pick analysis: The Dolphins essentially chose the value of a third-round comp pick over Ja'Wuan James, who left for a hefty contract in Denver. The reasonable contracts given to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Eric Rowe end up cancelling out losses like Frank Gore and Brandon Bolden and allow the Dolphins to maintain what should be a fifth-rounder for the departure of longtime sack man Cameron Wake.


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 7.
Key free-agent losses:Landon Collins (Redskins); Jamon Brown (Falcons).
Key free-agent additions:Golden Tate (Eagles); Markus Golden (Cardinals).
Comp-pick analysis: The Giants' comp-pick scenario seems pretty clear-cut, with the Landon Collins departure landing them a third-rounder and Mario Edwards' move to the Saints netting a seventh-rounder. The additions of Golden Tate and Markus Golden cancel out the departures of Jamon Brown and B.W. Webb (Bengals).


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 4.
Key free-agent losses:Nick Foles (Jaguars); Golden Tate (Giants); Jordan Hicks (Cardinals).
Key free-agent additions: None.
Comp-pick analysis: The Eagles added two qualifying free agents in Andrew Sendejo and L.J. Fort, but they certainly don't qualify as key additions. However, they will cancel out any pick compensation for the losses of Jordan Hicks and Jordan Matthews. On the other hand, the Eagles decided to let Nick Foles walk, which should bring a third-round comp pick in return. Their midseason trade for Golden Tate should net them a fourth-round comp pick after they gave up a 2019 third-rounder for him.


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 4; one in Round 6.
Key free-agent losses:Preston Smith (Packers); Jamison Crowder (Jets); Ty Nsekhe (Bills); Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Bears).
Key free-agent additions:Landon Collins (Giants); Ereck Flowers (Jaguars).
Comp-pick analysis: The Redskins lost four qualifiers, with Jamison Crowder bringing them a fourth-round comp pick based on his contract and Ty Nsekhe potentially netting a sixth-rounder.



Projected compensatory pick: Round 4.
Key free-agent losses:Adrian Amos (Packers); Bryce Callahan (Broncos).
Key free-agent additions:Buster Skrine (Jets); Cordarrelle Patterson (Patriots); Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Redskins).
Comp-pick analysis: Chicago may have actually signed a group of more impactful free agents than what the team lost, but the total number of qualifying free agents lost falls in the Bears' favor by one, with their top departure, Adrian Amos, netting them a potential fourth-round pick.


Projected compensatory pick: Round 4.
Key free-agent losses:Mitch Morse (Bills); Steven Nelson (Steelers); Chris Conley (Jaguars).
Key free-agent additions:Tyrann Mathieu (Texans); Alex Okafor (Saints).
Comp-pick analysis: The Chiefs lost five qualifiers and gained four, with Mitch Morse and Tyrann Mathieu as the top free agents from each column who will cancel each other out. While this pick could end up being a fifth-rounder, a fourth-round comp pick is still the favorite to head Kansas City's way following the departure of cornerback Steven Nelson.


Projected compensatory pick: Round 4.
Key free-agent losses:Tyrell Williams (Raiders); Jason Verrett (49ers).
Key free-agent additions:Tyrod Taylor (Browns); Thomas Davis (Panthers).
Comp-pick analysis: The Chargers lost three qualifying free agents (Tyrell Williams, Jason Verrett, Darius Philon) and gained two (Tyrod Taylor and Thomas Davis), so they are expected to receive a comp pick, and it's likely to be a fourth-rounder. However, depending on Williams' playing time and performance, there appears to be a chance for the receiver to push that pick from the fourth round into the third round. While this might be hard to hear, Chargers fans, you may want to cheer for Williams to have a great season -- except for when he's playing against your team.


Projected compensatory pick: Round 3.
Key free-agent losses:Le'Veon Bell (Jets); Jesse James (Lions).
Key free-agent additions:Steven Nelson (Chiefs); Donte Moncrief (Jaguars).
Comp-pick analysis: With the departure of Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh is set to receive a comp pick for the first time since 2017.

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Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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