As the 2020 NFL Draft rapidly approaches, giving NFL fans who have been stuck at home under a shelter in place order something to look forward to, another date on the NFL calendar which is of note is quickly approaching as well. Specifically, the date by which unrestricted free agents who sign with other teams no longer count in comp pick calculations will arrive before many fans are ready.
The date on which players cease to count in comp pick calculations has been moved up in recent seasons. For quite some time the deadline was on June 1, however, in 2015 the league moved the date to May 12. It stayed in early May for the next few years, moving around slightly as the league year moved around, and under Appendix V of the 2020 CBA approved in March, the new end date became the end of the day on the Monday after the draft. That means that with the draft on tap to start Thursday, the deadline for free agents to sign elsewhere in order to earn teams like the Seattle Seahawks comp picks is just single digit days away.
As noted back in February, even with so many big name free agents with the potential to leave and create significant holes in the roster, the Seahawks are likely better off opting not to forego free agency in favor of comp picks. Comp picks, of course, carry value, but lottery tickets are less valuable than proven NFL players who can deliver on the field. Or, at least look semi-competent on the field compared to players drafted with comp picks who might never even make the roster. So, with that said, here’s a look at the 19 unrestricted free agents Seattle had this year, along with their current status is in terms of comp pick calculations:
- Jadeveon Clowney: Unsigned
- Jarran Reed: Returning to Seattle
- Quinton Jefferson: Signed two-year, $13.5M contract with the Buffalo Bills (qualifies)
- Ziggy Ansah: Unsigned
- George Fant: Signed three-year, $30M contract with the New York Jets (qualifies)
- Germain Ifedi: Signed one-year, $1.048M contract with the Chicago Bears (does not qualify)
- Mychal Kendricks: Unsigned while rehabbing a torn ACL
- Mike Iupati: Returning to Seattle
- Al Woods: Signed one-year, $2.75M contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars (qualifies)
- Josh Gordon: Unsigned
- Jaron Brown: Unsigned
- Akeem King: Unsigned
- Marshawn Lynch: Unsigned
- Dekoda Watson: Unsigned
- Neiko Thorpe: Returning to Seattle
- Geno Smith: Unsigned
- Robert Turbin: Unsigned
- Luke Willson: Returning to Seattle
- C.J. Prosise: Unsigned
Summing all that up, the Seahawks lost three free agents to other teams who signed contracts big enough to qualify for comp pick calculations. On the flip side, the team added the following free agents:
- Brandon Shell (qualifies)
- B.J. Finney (qualifies)
- Cedric Ogbuehi (currently qualifies based on salary, but could drop)
- Benson Mayowa (qualifies)
- Bruce Irvin (contract terms unknown but likely qualifies)
On this side, the team has at least four, likely five players whose contracts are large enough to qualify. With more free agents coming than leaving, that makes this portion of the CBA relevant:
Clubs that lose to other Clubs a greater number of CFAs than they sign or acquire from other Clubs shall be eligible to receive a Compensatory Draft Selection in the College Draft to be held in the following League Year subject to the provisions set forth below.
For clarity, when the CBA refers to CFAs it means players who qualify in the comp pick calculations. Thus, with the Seahawks set to add four or five free agents while only losing three that qualify for comp pick calculations, that means Seattle will be unlikely to receive any comp picks in the 2021 draft.
Further, looking at the free agents the team signed who impact comp pick calculations, three of the five free agents impacting the comp pick formula are offensive linemen. That would certainly seem to indicate that the 2020 Seahawks may have a preference for experienced offensive linemen as opposed to drafting young, inexperienced college players to play the position. That would be in line with as expectations, as here at Field Gulls the possibility Seattle could forego offensive line in the draft is what the smart money has been expecting.
In short, fans can probably draw two conclusions from how the Seahawks have approached free agency this offseason. First, they aren’t that worried about comp picks in 2021 and won’t be receiving any because the probability of the remaining unsigned free agents signing prior to the April 27 deadline is low. Secondly, as the team has apparently foregone those 2021 comp picks in favor of addressing the offensive line through free agency, don’t expect a big splash on the line on Day 1, or even Day 2, because the team has already effectively used draft picks on the offensive line.