NFL Compensatory Picks 2014: Rules, Formula Explanation and Selections

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2014

Pittsburgh Steelers Emmanuel Sanders and Miami Dolphins Mike Wallace talk at the end of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Miami won the game 34-28. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)
Tom E. Puskar/Associated Press

The NFL offseason is once again heating up as organizations prepare for the announcement of which teams will be awarded compensatory picks in the 2014 NFL draft and where those selections will take place.

The basic philosophy of compensatory picks is that franchises that lost more free agents than they signed in the previous year will be awarded draft selections to make up for the losses, according to previously released documents from   

Picks are awarded in the third through seventh rounds, and there are 32 total selections that can be awarded to teams that fit the criteria.    

According to Jimmy Kempski of, the official formula for determining which round and number the picks will take place is not public.

With the picks typically awarded during the owner’s meetings (Sunday through Wednesday), here are the rules and formula explanation based on how the previous years have played out and the latest projections from experts across the league.

Rules and Formula Explanation

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 7: Greg Jennings #15 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the football during the second quarter of the game against the Washington Redskins on November 7, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneap
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While the NFL has kept the formula determining the exact pick each team will get a secret, the basic rules for the compensatory selections is common knowledge thanks to publicly released documents from the league.

Compensatory draft pick determinations are based on the salary, playing time and postseason honors of the free agents each team lost during the previous offseason. For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers should receive one of the top compensatory picks after losing wide receiver Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins via free agency.

All of the compensatory pick talk can be very confusing, but the selections will likely be awarded Monday, per Tania Ganguli of ESPN:

Each team is allowed a maximum of four compensatory picks, and selections will only be awarded to organizations that signed fewer players than they lost to free agency. That does not include players cut, players released after signing the year before or players making the league minimum.

The exact formula for where each selection will take place may not be known, but the size of the contract each free agent signed has been a major determining factor in previous years. 

Latest Projections

There are plenty projections surrounding which teams will get compensatory picks and where the selections will fall, but Craig Turner (via Kempski), who has established a reputation for accurately predicting these picks, has projected which team and where each selection will take place in the 2014 draft.

Projected Compensatory Draft Picks (via
RoundTeamNotable Player Lost
3Pittsburgh SteelersMike Wallace
3Green Bay PackersGreg Jennings
3Baltimore RavensPaul Kruger
3San Francisco 49ersDashon Goldson
4Detroit LionsGosder Cherilus
4Baltimore RavensDannell Ellerbe
4Houston TexansConnor Barwin
5New York JetsLaRon Landry
5Baltimore RavensCary Williams
5Atlanta FalconsBrent Grimes
5Pittsburgh SteelersKeenan Lewis
5New York GiantsMartellus Bennett
5Baltimore RavensEd Reed
5Houston TexansGlover Quin
6New York JetsMike DeVito
6Green Bay PackersErik Walden
6New York JetsDustin Keller
6New England PatriotsPatrick Chung
6Cincinnati BengalsManny Lawson
6St. Louis RamsBrandon Gibson
6New York JetsShonn Greene
7St. Louis RamsBradley Fletcher
7Dallas CowboysMike Jenkins
7Cincinnati BengalsPat Sims
7St. Louis RamsCraig Dahl
7St. Louis RamsRob Turner
7Dallas CowboysVictor Butler
7Cincinnati BengalsBruce Gradkowski
7Atlanta FalconsWill Svitek
7Atlanta FalconsChristopher Owens
7San Diego CHargersShaun Phillips
7Dallas CowboysKenyon Coleman
Jimmy Kempski,

The projections help fans understand exactly why teams are awarded the picks. The bigger the contract and the more a player impacts his new team, the better his old team will be rewarded with compensatory selections.

The New York Giants made several moves last offseason, but Jordan Raanan of is still expecting the team to be awarded a pick for the team’s losses:

So, with the Giants losing Umenyiora and Bennett and their only significant addition being Myers, the Giants should be rewarded. My prediction is they net a fourth-round pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.

According to Vaughn McClure of, the Atlanta Falcons are expecting several picks to make up for free-agent losses:

During this year's NFL combine, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said he anticipated receiving two to three compensatory draft picks this year. The Falcons currently have a pick in every round and own the sixth overall pick in the draft.

While the Falcons are expecting several selections, the Philadelphia Eagles are not likely going to get any, per Paul Domowitch of

This is an exciting time for teams that were dejected by losses in free agency, but ESPN’s Andrew Brandt points out the truth about the release of the picks:

NFL fans won’t be forced to wait very long for the outcome to all of the pertinent questions regarding compensatory picks, and Monday’s announcement will add even more intrigue to May’s draft.

This year's draft offers plenty of talent at various positions. As a result, any extra ammunition NFL teams can acquire is beneficial, especially with mid-round picks. For those teams expecting a few extra selections, this process could prove to be a significant factor in their draft plans.