2025 Compensatory Picks Update (5/6/2025)

With the deadline for unrestricted free agent signings counting toward the compensatory formula having passed a week ago, it’s time to take a look as to where the list of projected 2025 compensatory picks stands as of now.

It appears that this will be a draft in which fewer than 32 regular compensatory picks are generated. When this happens, in order to get to exactly 32 picks, additional supplementary compensatory picks will be awarded in what would be the order of the eighth round if it existed. Currently, it’s projected that two such supplemental picks will be awarded. Which teams earn those picks is of course a mystery as of now, but they would be among two of the worst teams in the 2024 season. Since the norm in recent years is to have more than 32 eligible regular compensatory picks, this means that teams were more willing than usual to cancel out comp picks in exchange for gaining talent now via unrestricted free agency.

The starkest example of this comes from Minnesota. The Vikings were expected to possibly see two players, Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, leave the team for top tier deals elsewhere, and that is what happened. The Vikings also lost several other CFAs, but were also aggressive in signing CFAs of their own to offset some of those departures. Nonetheless, they had at least balanced this to where the 3rd rounders for both Cousins and Hunter leaving were on the board...until they signed Shaquill Griffin to a one year, $4.55 million contract, leaving the Vikings with a net loss of only 1 CFA, giving the formula no choice but to cancel out Hunter’s contract with Griffin’s.

Now, it’s fine for a team to conclude that signing a player now is better than getting a comp pick later, but adding to the intrigue are multiple reports that say the Vikings expect multiple comp picks to offset the tradeups they made in the draft. Like all humans, I am fallible, and it’s possible that I missed an additional CFA that departed. (If you think I did, let me know!) Another possibility is that the Vikings, like many, expected Dalton Risner to sign a contract before the draft–but unbelievably, this is the second straight season he has failed to do so. But as I see it now, the best chance the Vikings could have to get the Hunter 3rd is if Oli Udoh starts the whole season on the offensive line for the Saints. Even more daunting would be if Josh Dobbs somehow starts the whole season for the 49ers.

It is also intriguing that the Vikings spent much at quarterback (Sam Darnold) and edge rusher (Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel), only to turn around and draft both of those positions in the first round. They are two very important positions, but we shall see if all of these acquisitions end up offsetting an extra 3rd round pick and more in the next draft.

A few other notable high comp pick cancellations with lower valued contracts include:

  • The Jets cancelled out a 4th round valued contract that Bryce Huff signed with a quartet of 6th round valued contracts–most notably the addition of Javon Kinlaw that was followed by the trade of John Franklin-Myers to Denver.
  • Speaking of the Broncos, they elected to cut Justin Simmons and bring in Brandon Jones as a CFA, and also signed Malcolm Roach to a CFA worthy contract despite the Franklin-Myers acquisition later. Those actions caused them to get a 4th rounder for Lloyd Cushenberry going to the Titans cancelled out.
  • The Bengals and Lions both had 4th rounders from a pair of Jonahs on the offensive line (Williams & Jackson) cancelled out due to a spate of 6th and 7th round CFA signings.
  • The Colts cancelled out a 5th rounder from Gardner Minshew leaving by replacing him with Joe Flacco.
  • The Bears lose out on a 4th & 5th (Darnell Mooney & Justin Jones) with two 6th round valued signings (D’Andre Swift and Gerald Everett).

Close calls to watch

Now that no more players can be added as CFAs, the next major adjustments to the list will come mostly from snap counts and earned incentives. Here are some of the players to keep an eye on for their playtime:

  • The Bills had both a departure (Tim Settle), and two signings (Mike Edwards and Mack Hollins) that are on the bubble of qualifying as CFAs. There are many possible combinations at play here, one which gets Buffalo an extra 7th rounder (Settle qualifies but Edwards and Hollins don’t), and others where the Bills could lose either or both of their current comp picks (Settle doesn’t qualify and either or both of Edwards and Hollins do). It may be in the Bills’ interest to limit the snaps that Edwards and Hollins get, particularly if Settle’s snaps also get limited
  • And the Texans have a reason to limit Settle’s snaps, because if his contract does not qualify him as a CFA, Houston can open up a 6th round CFA departure, likely that of George Fant.
  • The Chargers welcomed back an old friend in Denzel Perryman, but if he’s welcomed back to the point where he plays almost all the snaps on defense, that could risk canceling out one of their 6th round comp picks.
  • The Giants have a 4th rounder on the board for Xavier McKinney leaving for Green Bay, but that is contingent on Ben Bredeson qualifying as a CFA. This could be complicated by the Bucs also drafting Graham Barton in the 1st round, should Barton displace Bredeson as a possible starter at guard, instead of Robert Hainsey at center. The Giants and their fans should be rooting for Bredeson to win a starting job. If Bredeson’s contract does not qualify, the 4th rounder gets demoted to a net value 7th rounder placed at the very bottom of the list.
  • The 49ers signed Issac Yiadom to a borderline CFA qualifying contract. If he does not qualify, San Francisco would pick up an extra 7th rounder. They could also gain another 7th should Ray-Ray McCloud’s contract qualifies.
  • And Yiadom is one of the players that the Saints are reliant on in order to get any compensatory picks whatsoever. Another path to get another 7th would be if they limit Willie Gay Jr.’s snaps.
  • And speaking of Gay, and also rounding it back to Edwards at the top, both of the Chiefs’ projected 7th round picks are very much contingent on those two players playing enough snaps. If they don’t, Kansas City could be left with only one or zero comp picks for 2025.

A final word on the 3rd/4th round cutoff dispute of 2024

Lastly, there still remains great doubt as to whether or not the Bills and 49ers should have received 3rd round comp picks in 2024 for the departures of Tremaine Edmunds and one of either Jimmy Garoppolo or Mike McGlinchey, instead of the 4th rounders the NFL Management Council gave them. As it turns out, that doubt was very much challenged by both teams, as Bills GM Brandon Beane explained in a press conference on March 24th:

It did surprise me, I think us and San Francisco got a raw deal. They’re counting, I don’t want to give a full thing, but we had separate Zooms with the league trying to go through how it was calculated, because by even their accounts as we were checking with them through the year, we clearly had a 3rd rounder.

It’s with all the conversions, the voids and things like that, numbers that are not really numbers. For example, [San Francisco] gave an example of one of their players that was really around a 17 [million] APY but was being counted as a 26 [million] APY by the way they did the void with higher cap numbers at the end, and there’s been so many of those in recent years due to covid and where the cap was that it fell into it, and we missed–I’m talking like [a very small amount], and it was a major blow because we had planned for that and I know that [San Francisco] felt the same way.

What Beane is referring to is that sometimes large base salaries are placed into void years in contracts. But these numbers, as Beane says, are not really numbers because those base salaries will never be realized once the contract voids, and it makes no sense to include those numbers in the compensatory formula calculation. A particularly ridiculous example is Jalen Hurts having placeholder $99,999,999 base salaries in all seven(!) of his void years, which under this method would balloon his APY to an absurd amount of almost $80 million APY.

But even if this is taken into account, I still could not replicate the NFLMC’s list while staying within the 3rd round containing the top 5% of the number of leaguewide players considered. That number cannot be higher than about 1,880 in order to make the other round cutoffs work. But such a number would include the top 94 players–and even after adding in placehold void year base salaries, Edmunds and McGlinchey still come in ranked in the 80s.

And while it’s possible the Beane may have misspoke on the precise numbers he cited for one of the 49ers’ contracts, I could not replicate a situation where one of their players at $17M APY came out to be $26M APY. My suspicion is that the player is either Arik Armstead or Fred Warner.

I’m happy that the NFLMC was willing to make one correction that upgraded a Bengals comp pick from the 6th round to the 3rd round. (I’ll be rooting for you, McKinnley Jackson!) But unless I am presented with more information as to how this calculation happened (and if you have it, please let me know on Twitter at @nickkorte), I will continue to agree with Beane that the Bills and 49ers got a raw deal.