With the former Players’ Union and the league locked in a never-ending war of the blame game, the only thing football-related left for fans to focus on is the NFL draft set for late April. This year’s draft will likely receive more attention, and scrutiny, than any draft in recent memory, because it’s very possible that the draft may be the last out-of-the-courtroom action the NFL sees for a long time.
One remaining unknown leading up to the draft is the exact order that the draft will proceed. The remaining variable in the draft order is the awarding of Compensatory draft picks by the league, which according to Adam Schefter of ESPN will occur tomorrow.
Compensatory picks are draft picks awarded at the ends of the 3rd through 7th rounds to teams that have suffered a loss of qualifying unrestricted free agents (UFAs) that is greater than the number of qualifying UFAs signed in the prior league year. A qualifying UFA is a player whose contract has expired and who signs with another team for at least a certain average yearly salary (this minimum amount varies yearly). A player released by his prior teams does not count as a qualifying player and is therefore of no consequence for the Comp pick calculation.
While the actual formula for awarding Comp picks has never been publicly disclosed, history shows that the most important criteria for awarding draft picks is the average yearly salary of the contract signed by the UFA with his new team. The larger the average annual salary, the higher the Comp pick granted.
During the 2010 offseason, the Ravens lost 2 qualifying UFAs – DT Dwan Edwards and DT Justin Bannan – while signing no qualifying UFAs. The Ravens did sign several free agents, like QB Marc Bulger and WRs TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth, but those players had been released by their prior teams and do not count toward the Compensatory pick formula.
The Ravens did sign one player who was technically an Unrestricted Free Agent, Cory Redding.
However, Ravens 24×7 has learned that since Redding’s status as a UFA was only because of a contract restructure done when Redding was acquired via trade with Seattle in 2009 (by which 2 additional years of his previous contract were removed), his signing does not count against the Ravens in the Comp pick formula.
So, the Ravens should expect to receive 2 Comp picks for the losses of Edwards and Bannan.
The annual yearly salaries of the contracts signed by Edwards and Bannan were $4.5M and $4.4M, respectively. This is the key factor in awarding draft picks and, based on the Comp picks awarded last year, should put both of them into the lower 5th round category. An average yearly salary of $4.4M would have netted a 5th rounder last year and because of the lack of free agent movement last year (due to the uncapped year rules), the overall compensation for free agent was down in 2010. So, it will come down to where they draw the dividing line between the 5th and 6th round Comp picks, but it would seem that both will fall in the 5th round.
That said, there is another consideration that is an important factor when determining Comp picks – “performance”, which can raise or lower the Comp pick by a round. However, performance appears to only be measured by post-season honors (in the positive) and the lack of games started (in the negative). While the dividing line for how many games missed that will lower a Comp pick by a round is unknown, this factor could serve to lower the Comp pick for Edwards, since he only played in 11 games (all starts).
So, it’s possible the Ravens could end up getting two 5th round Comp picks or a 5th and a 6th or two 6th round Comp picks. The guess here is that it will be a 5th and a 6th due to Edwards missing those games due to injury.
With those 2 Comp picks in hand, the Ravens will have 9 draft picks to work with when the draft rolls around. In addition to the 2 Comp picks, they will have their own 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th round picks. They traded their 5th round pick for CB Josh Wilson and they traded their 7th round pick along with WR Mark Clayton for St. Louis’ 6th round pick. They also acquired a 7th round pick from Philadelphia for LB Antwan Barnes.
As such, the Ravens will have the following draft picks at their disposal in late April (28-30): 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th (Comp), 6th (St.L), 6th, 6th (Comp) and 7th (Philly).