NFL teams can now sign veteran free agents without worrying about losing out on compensatory draft picks in next year’s draft.
It is no secret that the Seattle Seahawks take compensatory picks into account when considering signing veteran free agents. They believe that the extra draft picks are worth it to limit the talent pool of available players.
As of now, that no longer matters. The Seahawks, and every other team, are free to sign any player without it changing the compensatory picks awarded for next year’s draft.
Here is how the comp pick system works: if a player with an expired contract signs with a new team, that player’s old team can get an extra draft pick. If the old team also signs a qualifying free agent, then they lose out on one potential comp pick; the players lost and signed essential cancel each other out.
The key word in that previous sentence is “qualifying.” Players who were cut (or were a restricted free agent and were not tendered a contract) don’t count. The can be signed without having them alter the compensatory pick formula.
These “non-qualifying” free agents are the ones the Seahawks typically pick from during free agency. They tend to lose plenty of players to other teams, and they don’t want to miss out of the extra draft picks they would receive.
In the 2015 draft, the Seahawks were awarded four compensatory picks. This year, they were given three. Those extra draft picks are valuable, no matter which round they come in.
This is why free agency mostly comes to a grinding halt by mid-April. Teams are willing to wait a few weeks (and possibly lose out on a player) to make sure they they get to keep their comp picks.
There are some interesting names available that the Seahawks could be interested in now that signing them no longer matters for next year’s draft. O’brien Schofield and Tony McDaniel both come to mind. Both left Seattle in free agency a year ago, and both are now out there looking for another chance right now.