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2023 NFL Draft: Compensatory pick projections for every team

It's no secret that many teams are now crafting their free-agency philosophies around the value of receiving potential compensatory selections in any given year. As you will read in this piece, there were some creative methods that teams utilized this season to improve their chances of gaining a compensatory pick in 2023.

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), per the collective bargaining agreement. However, compensatory picks are not divided up equally among the teams, and no team can receive more than four compensatory picks (in exchange for a player leaving) in a single year. To qualify for compensatory picks, teams must end up with more or better qualifying free agents lost than gained in a particular year.

Teams are awarded compensatory draft picks between Rounds 3 and 7 based upon a league formula 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.

In November of 2020, the NFL announced it would award two third-round selections (one in consecutive years) to any team that had a minority coach or executive hired as head coach or general manager by another NFL club (teams that lost employees to a head coach and general manager position would receive three). Those selections come at the back end of the compensatory picks awarded in the third round. The Browns and Chiefs received their first of two picks in 2022 and will receive another in 2023, while the Niners will receive two more as the result of having multiple people hired away between 2021 and '22.

The compensatory picks for the 2023 NFL Draft won't be determined by the NFL Management Council's formula until after the 2022 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: Players need to have been signed as unrestricted free agents before May 2 and rank high enough among their peers to qualify for the compensatory-pick formula. Players that were released by their previous team are not eligible for the formula, so they're not included in the key additions and losses here.


Projected compensatory picks: Two in Round 3; one in Round 5; one in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Laken Tomlinson (Jets), D.J. Jones (Broncos), Arden Key (Jaguars).

Key free-agent addition: Charvarius Ward.

Comp-pick analysis: The 49ers will receive the second of two third-rounders awarded for Mike McDaniel being hired as Dolphins head coach this offseason and the third of three third-rounders awarded for losing both Robert Saleh (Jets head coach) and Martin Mayhew (Commanders GM) in 2021. They will also take home a fifth for Jones and a likely seventh-round pick for Key, provided he makes the Jaguars -- which is very likely. The departure of Tomlinson and addition of Ward cancel each other out in terms of compensatory-pick eligibility.

Projected compensatory picks: Two in Round 5; one in Round 6; one in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Von Miller (Bills), Darious Williams (Jaguars), Austin Corbett (Panthers), Sebastian Joseph-Day (Chargers).

Key free-agent addition: Allen Robinson.

Comp-pick analysis: For the second year in a row, the Rams will reach the maximum level of compensatory picks, as they allowed several free agents to walk (whether because of cap constraints or by choice). Miller's departure for Buffalo and Robinson's arrival cancel each other out. Among the Rams' qualifying losses, Joseph-Day is the most interesting, given that he could end up fetching Los Angeles a third fifth-rounder instead of a sixth, if he's able to play a higher number of passing snaps than expected for the Chargers. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo's signing by the Texans appears set to bring the Rams a seventh-round pick, with the Texans' failure to draft a defensive end putting Okoronkwo in position to earn playing time this season.


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 5; one in Round 6; one in Round 7. 

Key free-agent losses: Marcus Mariota (Falcons), Zay Jones (Jaguars), Casey Hayward (Falcons), Quinton Jefferson (Seahawks).

Key free-agent additions: Chandler Jones, Bilal Nichols, Anthony Averett.

Comp-pick analysis: When the final tallies were counted, the Raiders lost six qualifying free agents and signed three. The signing of Jones cancels the departure of Mariota. Zay Jones' exit will bring either a fifth- or sixth-rounder, depending on his playing time this season. The loss of Jefferson to Seattle should secure Las Vegas with a sixth-rounder. Nicholas Morrow, who signed with Chicago, is scheduled to bring a seventh-rounder, provided he makes the Bears and maintains playing time.

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 4; two in Round 6.

Key free-agent losses: Randy Gregory (Broncos), Connor Williams (Dolphins), Cedrick Wilson Jr. (Dolphins).

Key free-agent additions: None

Comp-pick analysis: The Cowboys appear to have definitely decided they will play the comp-pick game as it pertains to losing and signing free agents. Since 2020, Dallas has accumulated seven compensatory picks, and another three are slated to come in 2023. Despite the team-friendly 2022 cap number of the deal Gregory signed with the Broncos, his total contract value is set to bring Dallas a fourth-round pick. The departures of Williams and Wilson are slotted into sixth-round selections, based upon their contracts.

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 5; one in Round 6.

Key free-agent losses: Christian Kirk (Jaguars), Chandler Jones (Raiders), Chase Edmonds (Dolphins).

Key free-agent additions: None.

Comp-pick analysis: For the second year in a row, the Cardinals are expected to receive three compensatory picks, with the surprisingly lucrative deal given to Kirk by the Jags set to result in a third-round selection for Steve Keim and Co. 

Though Jones signed a contract with Las Vegas that should equal a third-rounder by the numbers, Arizona will only net a fifth for his exit, as he has been in the league for 10 years, and teams can't receive any pick higher than a fifth for players with 10-plus years of experience.


Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 6.

Key free-agent losses: J.C. Jackson (Chargers), Ted Karras (Bengals).

Key free-agent additions: None.

Comp-pick analysis: With no qualifying free-agent additions (Jabrill Peppers' one-year, $2 million deal does not make the cut), this becomes a very straightforward projection. Jackson's free-agent deal with the Chargers is certain to bring a third-rounder, while Karras' Bengals contract likely locks them into a sixth-round compensatory pick.

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Brandon Scherff (Jaguars), Tim Settle (Bills).

Key free-agent additions: None.

Comp-pick analysis: Well, this will be easy. Scherff signed a rich free-agent deal as part of Jacksonville's massive spending spree, which will net the Commanders a third-rounder, provided Scherff stays reasonably healthy. The departure of Settle should bring a seventh-round choice back.

Projected compensatory picks: Two in Round 6.

Key free-agent losses: Tyler Conklin (Jets), Xavier Woods (Panthers), Mason Cole (Steelers).

Key free-agent addition: Harrison Phillips.

Comp-pick analysis: Adding Phillips helps fortify Minnesota's defensive front, but it will also cancel compensation for the departure of Conklin to the Jets. The good news, however, is that a couple of sixth-round picks look likely to come the Vikings' way, with Woods and Cole moving on to two different squads via free agency.

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; one in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Charvarius Ward (49ers), Austin Blythe (Seahawks), Jarran Reed (Packers).

Key free-agent additions: Justin Reid, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Comp-pick analysis: The Chiefs lost four qualifying free agents but signed three. The contract cross-outs left Reed as a departure who will bring a seventh-rounder. Kansas City will also land its second third-round pick for the Chicago Bears hiring Ryan Poles as GM.

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 5; one in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Alex Cappa (Bengals), Jordan Whitehead (Jets), O.J. Howard (Bills).

Key free-agent addition: Russell Gage.

Comp-pick analysis: The addition of Gage cancels out the departure of Cappa, leaving Whitehead's contract with the Jets and Howard's deal with the Bills to bring in a fifth- and seventh-rounder, according to where they are slotted.

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 5; one in Round 7. 

Key free-agent losses: Evan Engram (Jaguars), Austin Johnson (Chargers), Lorenzo Carter (Falcons).

Key free-agent additions: Mark Glowinski, Tyrod Taylor.

Comp-pick analysis: Glowinski and Taylor's contracts cross-cancel the deals signed by Johnson and Carter. Engram's contract sits alone with a fifth-round compensation tied to it, but Keion Crossen's departure is worth noting. The Giants traded a sixth-rounder to the Texans for Crossen last August, and his signing with the Dolphins should result in a seventh-round compensatory pick in 2023 -- meaning, basically, the Giants rented the core special-teamer in exchange for several draft slots between the sixth and seventh rounds.


Projected compensatory pick: One in Round 3.

Key losses: None.

Key free-agent additions: Jacoby Brissett, Taven Bryan.

Comp-pick analysis: The picks awarded to the Browns when Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was hired away to be the Vikings' GM do not factor in to the standard plus-minus calculation of free agency losses and additions. The third-rounder above is the second of two picks handed to Cleveland after that hire.

Projected compensatory pick: One in Round 5.

Key free-agent losses: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Chiefs), Lucas Patrick (Bears).

Key free-agent addition: Jarran Reed.

Comp-pick analysis: The loss of Patrick is canceled out by the signing of Reed, leaving the departure of Valdes-Scantling to provide a future fifth-round compensatory choice.

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Terron Armstead (Dolphins), Marcus Williams (Ravens).

Key free-agent additions: Marcus Maye, Andy Dalton.

Comp-pick analysis: The signing of Tyrann Mathieu earlier this week happened after the deadline for it to count against the compensatory pick formula, which was a smart move by the Saints. However, signing Dalton in March, instead of after the draft, could cost the team a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick, since he and Maye together would zero out the Saints' losses. There is a chance Dalton might not qualify for the formula, based on his salary and lack of expected playing time as a backup quarterback. According to one former cap specialist who worked in the NFL for a long time, though, the Saints could still be in line for a late seventh-round pick even if Dalton counts against them, thanks to a point system built inside the comp-pick formula.

Teams projected to not receive any compensatory picks: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans.

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