2016 Compensatory Draft Pick Update for the Broncos

I wrote a more general article about this at OTC, since that now we’re past the crucial date of May 12 (the artist formerly known as June 1). This means that there will be no more players added to the compensatory formula for 2016 (there will only be subtractions from here on out). I thought I’d give a Broncos-specific forecast here. If you’re not interested in the gritty details beyond the fold, the short answer is that the Broncos are likely to only get three comp picks in 2016 instead of four—but those three are also likely to be of much better value (a 3rd/4th, 4th, and 6th) than the 4th and the three consecutive late 7ths they had in 2015.

Before we go any further, here is what the cancellation chart looks like for the Broncos (you can see this for all 32 teams here):

Qualifying UFAs Lost: 8 Qualifying UFAs Gained: 2
Name Rd. APY Name Rd. APY
Julius Thomas 3 $9,100,000
Orlando Franklin 4 $7,100,000
Rahim Moore 6 $4,000,000 Owen Daniels 6 $4,083,333
Terrance Knighton 6 $3,450,000
Nate Irving 7 $2,416,666 Darian Stewart 7 $2,125,000
Jacob Tamme 7 $1,600,000
Mitch Unrein 7 $950,000
Will Montgomery 7 $950,000

Although the Broncos currently have a lost/gained difference of six, there are two reasons why they’ll likely only get half of those. First, there’s a maximum of four compensatory picks per year that a team can receive, so this knocks out any consideration for picks for Mitch Unrein or Will Montgomery. (There’s also a nonzero chance that those two may not qualify anyway due to being cut by the Chargers/Bears or not playing enough if they do make their teams.)

Second, there are always exactly 32 compensatory picks awarded every year, and any beyond the 32-pick limit are disregarded. As it stands now in this list, the Broncos’ potential 7th round pick for Jacob Tamme is 34th in line, and thus wouldn’t be awarded. There’s a chance that picks above Tamme could be cancelled or disqualified as the season progresses, but in a few common scenarios that I run, the pick for Tamme was always falling beyond the 32 pick limit. Thus, right now I’m pessimistic that the Broncos will be able to get a pick for him.

The other three, however, for Julius Thomas, Orlando Franklin, and Terrance Knighton, look rock solid, assuming there aren’t any oddball cuts. The only questions are what rounds a couple of those picks might land:

  • I’ve had Thomas on the cusp of the 3rd/4th round cutoff for quite some time. My current projection of that cutoff at $9,015,149 (an average of the average ranges from 2013-2015 with an adjustment for the rise in the salary cap) has Thomas barely making it into the 3rd. But that could go either way depending on his production in 2015. If the Jaguars get the frequently injured version of Julius Thomas, the Broncos will likely get a 4th for him. But if the Jags get the “it’s so fucking easy!” version, the Broncos should have the very last pick of the 3rd round. (If so, let’s hope it goes much, much better than the last time they had that pick).
  • Franklin should be a solid 4th round value, and I don’t see any way that changes. If he plays almost all the snaps for the Chargers, as offensive linemen tend to do, he’ll be one of the highest 4th round comp picks, too.
  • You may have seen Knighton’s one year deal with the Redskins listed as $4,450,000—a value that otherwise could have made him on the cusp of a 5th round value. But for comp pick purposes I only have him at $3.450,000, and a solid 6th round value. Why? Knighton has a $550,000 workout bonus, and the comp pick formula has never counted workout bonuses. He also has an unusual $450,000 “weight incentive” that I’m guessing won’t count either. (Clearly, the Redskins have major concerns about Knighton’s conditioning and don’t want another Albert Haynesworth situation.)

Anyway, here’s your TL;DR line: expect the Broncos to get either a 3rd or 4th for Julius Thomas, a 4th for Orlando Franklin, and a 6th for Terrance Knighton—with an outside chance to pick up a 7th for Jacob Tamme.