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Why don’t the Redskins get compensatory draft picks?

Mar 25, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT


It’s become an annual tradition. During March owners meetings the NFL announces the awarding of compensatory draft picks. The Redskins don’t get any or get some leftover crumbs. Fans complain and say there is a conspiracy against their team.

But there really isn’t an anti-Redskins bias on Park Avenue (well, in matters not involving the interpretation of “uncapped year”, anyway). The way the Redskins do business keeps them from being awarded extra picks in the draft.

The exact formula for awarding the picks is a secret, something that doesn’t help when Redskins fans, or fans of any other team left out in the process, cry foul. All we get in the way of explanation is this from the press release announcing the picks:

“Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. . .

Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.”

The first paragraph is the key when we’re talking about the Redskins. They are a team that signs a lot of free agents so in any given year and, historically, players who leave the Redskins aren’t highly coveted by other teams. The number of free agents they sign is usually going to be greater than the number that they lose.

You get compensatory picks by letting players that other teams might value walk when their contracts expire and you replace them with either your own draft picks or with players who have been cut by other teams as they do not count in the formula. For example, last year the Ravens lost Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, and Cary Williams. The only free agent they signed was Elvis Dumervil, who had been cut by the Broncos. So they ended up with comp picks in the third and fifth rounds and two in the fourth.

If you look at the teams that have received the most compensatory picks since the system started in 1994 (go here and scroll down to the third page), you see some of the most consistently successful franchises in the NFL. There have been 20 Super Bowls since the system started and 15 have been won by teams in the top 10 in terms of the most comp picks awarded. That’s right, 75 percent.

Do the actual picks awarded help the teams to be successful? Or does conducting player personnel business in a manner that leads to getting awarded picks lead to success? Without doing extensive research, the answer is probably a little bit of both. Getting the extra picks makes it easier to build through the draft and that leads to getting more compensatory picks.

Back to the Redskins, they are 28th in compensatory picks received since the system was started. It’s well known that they talk a lot about building through the draft but when it comes down to it they fill holes with free agents. Of the 22 projected starters for this coming season, nine were drafted by the Redskins.

Not getting compensatory picks does not necessarily doom a franchise to failure. The Saints have had fewer over the years than the Redskins and they won a Super Bowl not too long ago. And the Broncos are 30th in comp picks and they were just in the Super Bowl. Still, building through the draft and collecting a few comp picks along the way certainly is the most consistently way of building a winning team.

  1. kenlinkins - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Baltimore got 4 more picks with a Draft Chart value of about 300 points which is equal to a late 2nd round pick (but in this draft I bet they use the two 3rd round picks). The Redskins will have to wait while 5 more teams pick before they get to pick their 4rd round guy, 5 more picks before their 5th round guy, and 6 more picks before their 6th round guy. Cost to Redskins about 16 slots downward. Also, seven more guys will not be therre as Undrafted Free Agents to pick from, not really a big deal. Baltimore was 12-4 (2011) and 10-6 (2012) before losing those 4 players in FA, then went 8-8 in 2013 (and still had a play off game) with one of the best GM’s in the business. IMO proof of what a good GM can do vs. one who runs out and over pays for free agents and not understanding the long term impact to the teams over all roster health. Time will tell if the Redskins are in stage one of a turn around with GM Allen.

  2. vtsquirm - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    well, you can’t trade any of the compensatory picks. so the Ravens WILL use the two 3rd round picks and also the other picks they were given. Speaking of the Skins, they’ve had a difficult finding talent in the draft so i’m not sure they would have faired any better if they had more draft picks to use.

    • kenlinkins - Mar 25, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      I didn’t know you could not trade compensatory picks. You learn something new everyday on here. Thanks

  3. gregfelts85 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I really hate the compensatory picks as a whole. They’re entire existence is created off of a loophole used by stubborn GM’ s who purposefully do not bring in free agents just so they can get picks. YES I KNOW, it is a system that all have the ability to take advantage of but, it works in the favor of those teams who get awarded a lot of compensatory picks, far to much. Take the Ravens for example, everyone claims Ozzy Newsome is one of, if not, the best GM in the NFL today at drafting player personnel. Over the past two seasons they’ve had 8 compensatory picks. With those picks it enables teams who already have a solid foundation far to much ease in retaining that foundation. If every year you decide to let your players walk because you as the owner and GM decided that that player was not worth the contract, why should you get anything for that? Okay, someone drives up his price because they value that player more than you and now you cant match that contract and in turn your free agent gets snagged away. Why do they not have the ability to resign that player? For instance, the Ravens last year let Kruger walk because he received an offer from the Browns that the Ravens, simply could not match. Why in the world should the Ravens be compensated for having Kruger get “taken” from them? If the player is that valuable to your team or that irreplaceable you are going to pay him the money to stay. Obviously one of two things happened, one, they didn’t think he was worth that money or two, they couldn’t afford him. The second scenario is a direct result of the team having no cap space bc of their decisions to pay their other players. Why should the Ravens or any other team be rewarded for having poor cap management? Of course Ozzy can appear to be the best when every year he is given 4 extra picks. Those picks give you a lot of wiggle room in the ultimate game of whether or not you’re able to pick quality players in the NFL draft. If I have the chance to let players walk bc I mismanaged my cap number (cough cough Joe Flacco) and in return I’m going to be given potentially a third rounder (I think with a deep draft like this one we can all see that true value a little more) I’m going to let them walk too and just say “screw it the NFL is gonna give me a possible stud from the draft anyway”. If you hit on a player with those comp picks then is it truly fair to keep handing these teams picks? All it takes is to hit on one of those comp picks and you’re set at a position for a few years. That doesn’t include the picks you normally have in the draft on top of those comp picks. 75% of the teams who have won the super bowl since this pick system was created have been in the top 10 in comp picks since that system has been put into works? I think that in Itself creates an unfair advantage. Of course, every team has the right to do this but what if it’s a team like the skins who just simply cannot rely on rookies for the time being due to so many glaring holes so in turn are almost forced to bring in free agent help. I think I could draft a successful team if I had extra picks every year. Makes it a lot easier to hide your mistakes! Maybe the redskins have just not been making the right decisions but it almost seems like this system keeps certain teams hands tied a little. No conspiracy against us at all but it does start to look odd when teams continually are winning and they’re the same teams taking advantage of this system the most.

  4. mbarrett9821 - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    I agree 100% with gregfelts85. Archives

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