UPDATE: It was confirmed that the Browns received a 4th and two 5th round picks for 2016. Original story below.
Because they've lost five unrestricted free agents already without signing anybody, Cleveland Browns fans have already wondered if the front office is fantasizing about the compensatory picks they can pick up in 2017. However, what about compensatory picks for the 2016 NFL Draft? For that, we need to look back at last year's offseason moves.
Usually, the 32 compensatory picks are announced at the Annual League Meetings (usually on the second day). On Thursday, though, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports abruptly tweeted that the league was expected to announce the picks some time today, which is earlier than usual. Therefore, I tried to whip together the expected picks for the Browns as soon as possible. The Browns are projected to receive at least three compensatory picks for the 2016 NFL Draft.
The basic formula to start with (before looking at contracts) is to look at which free agents were lost and gained during the previous offseason. These have to be players who became unrestricted free agents, not players who were cut. There are also three other conditions to be aware of when it comes to players who might have signed with other teams:
- The players who Cleveland lost need to have stuck with the other team for most of the season
- There used to be a stipulation that players with cheap contracts, such as the veteran minimum, did not count. However, recent examples show they might be counting now if they contribute to a significant amount of playing time.
- They have to be signed during the normal free agency period (and not in August, for example).
Players Lost (6)
- - 2 years, $15 million ($7.5M / year)
-CB Buster Skrine - 4 years, $25 million ($6.25M / year)
-OLB Jabaal Sheard - 2 years, $11 million ($5.5M / year)
-QB Brian Hoyer - 2 years, $10.5 million ($5.25M / year)
-DL Ahtyba Rubin - 1 year, $2.6 million ($2.6M / year)
-WR Miles Austin - 1 years, $2.3 million ($2.3M / year)
Players Signed (2)
-CB Tramon Williams - 3 years, $21 million - ($7.0M / year)
-TE Rob Housler - 1 year, $1.76 million ($1.76M / year)
Players like WR Dwayne Bowe, WR Brian Hartline, and DL Randy Starks do not count in the "signed" column because they were cut by their previous teams. Williams and Housler, by comparison, just had their contracts expire with their former teams.
Because the Browns lost more players than they signed in 2015, they are eligible to receive compensatory picks for 2016. First, we need to look at the net change. The Browns lost 6 players but gained 2 players, which is a net gain of 4 players. Those two "gains" need to cancel out two of the "losses," which is done by comparing the equivalent contracts.
Williams' deal was similar to Cameron's, so we won't get a compensatory pick for Cameron. Housler's deal was similar to Rubin's or Austin's, so you remove one of them. Over the Cap has the predictions of which rounds the compensatory picks are in. They have:
- The Browns getting a 4th round pick for CB Buster Skrine, but just BARELY. It's possible it could slip to a 5th rounder.
- The Browns getting two 5th round picks for OLB Jabaal Sheard and QB Brian Hoyer. These ones seem locked in for 5th rounders.
Because there are only 32 compensatory picks, Over the Cap has the Browns just missing out on a 7th round compensatory pick. But, because these are just projections, it's possible that Cleveland could flip with another team and get that 7th round compensatory pick.
Peeking ahead to next year, the Browns could receive five compensatory picks, including three 4th rounders, if the team does not sign anybody else. 2017 will also be the first year that compensatory picks can be traded.