Compensatory picks are rewarded based on free agents gained or lost. Re-signing your own free agents or extending players does not count against it, and low-end (minimum salary) contracts are not factored in. 32 picks are awarded each year, if not enough free agent moves were made to account for all compensatory picks the remaining are put at the end of the 7th in draft order (as if an 8th round starts). Teams can receive a maximum of four compensatory picks, made at the end of each assigned round. Compensatory picks can not be traded.
Here is the overview of compensatory picks awarded. They are mostly as expected, with teams that lost a big-name free agents (Pittsburgh with Mike Wallace, Green Bay with Greg Jennings, Baltimore with Paul Kruger and San Francisco with Dashon Goldson) getting that coveted 3rd round pick. San Francisco received just that one pick, the St Louis Rams also were rewarded one 6th round pick and two 7th round picks. San Francisco comes into the draft fully loaded, they have 11 draft picks in the following rounds: 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7, 7. That is pretty enviable!
The Hawks getting none was fully expected due to losing few players last season and being very active in free agency, signing big names like Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The NFL compensatory pick formula is not public, but we know you gain picks on a per-player basis, with the round based primarily on the contract per year value with length and guarantees as minor factors, as well as on playing time. There is also a performance-based adjustment but it is so small as to be irrelevant. Here's the rules we know for estimating compensatory picks (per Philly.com, who gave decent estimates for this year but a little low-balling):
- Lost players that are cut or not tendered as RFAs and ERFAs do not qualify.
- Lost players that were picked up during the season the year before do not qualify. (this appears to have changed)
- Signed players that are released before midseason do not qualify.
- Players earning low minimum salaries do not qualify.
- Each player signed cancels out one player lost.
- The round of the pick awarded is primarily determined by the annual value of the contract signed. Signed players cancel out lost players with equal contracts, then lower contracts, before canceling out higher contracts.
All this is shaping up well for the Seahawks next season. As is typical for Super Bowl winning teams we signed very few outside players, re-signing your own guys doesn't count, and our guys are being rewarded with fairly rich contracts elsewhere. Last Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens received the max four compensatory picks, one of which was the highest possible, a 3rd round pick. We will not be receiving a 3rd round pick as judging by this year that requires an APY of $8M or more.
Here's what the Seahawks are looking at based on what we saw for comp picks and APY this season:
We currently have no players gained (the two guys we signed are too low to count).
Golden Tate at $6.1M APY would be a 4th round pick.
Brandon Browner at $5.7M APY would be a 4th or 5th round pick.
Breno Giacomini at $4.5M APY would be a 5th round pick.
Walter Thurmond at $3M APY would be a 6th round pick.
Clinton McDonald at $3M APY would be a 6th round pick. McDonald would likely have been free of the mid-season signing rule anyway as he re-signed with the same team, but this rule appears to have changed this year anyway.
Paul McQuistan at $1.5M APY and Chris Maragos at $1.3M APY are likely too low to receive compensatory picks this year. If they do it would be a 7th for each.
So as it stands, we would be looking at the max 4 compensatory picks in the following rounds: 4, 4, 5 and 6.
If we sign Jared Allen at more APY than Tate's contract (and that value seems like a given), he would cancel out that pick. The second 6th would then become valid, so we would be looking at the max 4 compensatory picks in the following rounds: 4, 5, 6 and 6.
If Browner is a 5th instead of a 4th, which is quite possible (he's right on the edge), those numbers would change to 4, 5, 5 and 6 or 5, 5, 6 and 6.
This would represent the first time the highly active Schneider and Carroll get any compensatory picks above a 7th round. Previous compensatory picks used under this regime (all 7th) are Jameson Konz in 2010, Malcolm Smith in 2011 and Jared Smith and Michael Bowie in 2013.
This is a very over-simplified estimate of what is a complex formula, and given that free agency in general was as active as it was it is more likely we receive lower picks than listed. Keep an eye on Craig Turner who is the premier guy when it comes to compensatory picks, and Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com who did a pretty good estimate.