One notable impact of the ongoing discussions around the new proposed collective bargaining agreement – which is currently being voted on by every player in the NFL – is that it may be delaying the announcement of this year's compensatory draft picks.
In each of the past three years, the compensatory picks and their order were announced on the last Friday of February. The exact dates were February 22nd last year, February 23rd in 2018, and February 24th in 2017. As we approach mid-March in 2020, it's been roughly two weeks since the picks would've been announced if the NFL followed the same timeline as it did in recent years.
The league has made no statement about the delay, but it would be logical to assume the CBA negotiations have played a role. There won't be any affect on this year's compensatory picks if the CBA is approved, but it may simply be a case of one thing being prioritized over all other matters.
Looking past the last three years, there is precedent for the picks not being announced and awarded until March. It happened on March 11th (also a Friday) in 2016, and was announced in late March annually in the early 2010s. So this isn't a shocking new development, but it is a change from the past three years.
When this year's picks will be announced is anyone's guess. It could be this week. It could be next week, either before or after the new league year and free agency period begin on Wednesday, March 18th. One thing that can be confidently predicted is that it will happen on or before Monday, March 23rd, which is one month before this year's draft kicks off on April 23rd. Over the past decade, the picks have always been announced at least a month prior to the first day of the draft.
As a reminder, compensatory picks are the result of an NFL formula that grants teams extra selections in the following year's draft if they lose more value in free agency (whether in quantity or quality of players) than they bring in. 32 of them are awarded each year, and teams can receive no more than four. The value of the picks – which occur after the third through seventh rounds – are roughly based on the annual salary of the new contract signed by the departing free agent.
Some free agents don't qualify to be counted in the formula, for fairly complicated contract reasons. For example: Latavius Murray left the Vikings in free agency last year, but despite his annual salary with the Saints being worth a sixth-round compensatory pick, his departure won't count towards the formula.
As of 2017, compensatory picks can be traded just like a standard draft pick.
The Vikings, like every other NFL team, already have a good estimation of how many compensatory picks they will receive and what the value of those picks will be. According to OverTheCap.com, they are projected to receive an extra fourth-round pick for losing Sheldon Richardson in free agency last offseason, as well as two additional seventh-round picks for the departures of Trevor Siemian and Tom Compton. They also lost Nick Easton in free agency, but signed Shamar Stephen to a contract of similar annual value, so those cancelled out. You can check out OTC's cancellation chart here. Essentially, the top 32 free agent departures that aren't cancelled out by a similarly-priced signing turn into compensatory picks.
But even though OTC's projections for compensatory picks tend to be fairly accurate, there's no exact way to predict the results of the NFL's undisclosed formula. It's possible, though quite unlikely, that Richardson could actually net the Vikings a third-round compensatory pick when the announcement is made. More realistically, it will just be interesting to see the exact order of the selections and who is picking in front of and behind the Vikings.
In 2019, the Vikings also had three compensatory picks: a sixth-rounder and two sevenths. GM Rick Spielman traded that sixth-rounder in one of four different trade-backs he made during the third round, but the two seventh-rounders (Nos. 247 and 250 overall) were used to select wide receiver Olabisi Johnson and long snapper Austin Cutting. Both players appeared in all 16 games, and Johnson finished fourth on the team with three receiving touchdowns.
We'll keep you updated on the details as soon as the compensatory picks are officially announced.
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