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NFL Draft 2014: What compensatory picks should the Raiders expect to receive?

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Last season the Raiders received one round six compensatory pick which they used on Stacy McGee (pictured above... to the right of the guy they should have drafted in the first round). What picks should they expect this season?


The NFL has a super-secret formula they use when deciding what compensatory picks each team will receive in the draft. The formula is a combination of contracts, playing time, and postseason awards of the players the team loses compared to those of the free agents the team signs. I will lay out here what the Raiders can expect and why.

For starters we must look at who the Raiders lost in free agency compared to who they signed. Keep in mind, free agents who were cut by the Raiders or their former team do not count. Only those who saw their contract expire or voided count against the total. This means players such as Charles Woodson and Kevin Burnett don't count because they were both released by their former teams. Likewise, players such as Michael Huff and Darrius Heyward-Bey don't count toward the Raiders total.

The Raiders saw a total of five players signed away to other teams in free agency: Philip Wheeler, Desmond Bryant, Brandon Myers, Mike Mitchell, and Shane Lechler. In turn the team signed nine free agents: Kaluka Maiava, Nick Roach, Pat Sims, Jason Hunter, Vance Walker, Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, Usama Young, and Rashad Jennings.

Research tells us players with minimum contracts usually don't count toward the compensatory pick total. The exception would be if the player signed to that minimum deal had considerable playing time and performance. Philip Wheeler was an example from last season. He was signed to a minimum deal but was a fulltime starter for the Raiders.

Only one player out of the players the Raiders lost signed minimum deal with his new team - Mike Mitchell. He had a great season appearing in 15 games and starting 13, so he should count against the total lost free agents.

Of the players the Raiders added, Jason Hunter, Usama Young, and Rashad Jennings were signed to minimum deals. Young didn't contribute enough to count while Hunter started 10 games and Jennings started eight making their inclusion questionable. If you don't include them, the Raiders still gained six players and lost five.

This is where simple math comes in. If the team lost more players than they gained, they can expect the remainder in compensatory picks. With the Raiders losing five and gained six, this would suggest the Raiders get no compensatory picks this year. But wait, there's more...

On a more general note, there are two exceptions to this simple math rule:

1. If the team loses the same amount of players as they receive and the outgoing players worth greatly outweighs the incoming players, the league awards the team a round seven pick (This happened with the Raiders in 2011 but isn't the case this year).

2. There will always be a total of 32 compensatory picks (one for each team) handed out. If, after doling out the picks to teams with a net free agent loss, there are still not 32 picks handed out, the remaining picks will be given out at the end of round seven beginning with the top of the draft order.

The second rule suggests there is a chance the Raiders could receive an extra round 7 pick. Once the picks are handed out, if there are 27 or less, the Raiders would receive an additional pick at the tail end of the draft. Without going through and examining every single free agent each team signed and lost last season, it can be hard to predict the total number of compensatory picks to be handed out and therefore which teams will get an extra round seven pick.

The odds don't favor the Raiders getting an additional pick at the tail end of the draft. In four of the past five years, at least 30 picks had been handed out, leaving just two teams to get that additional round seven compensatory pick. With the Raiders having the fifth pick, it doesn't look promising.

As I mentioned before, the league does have several criteria they weigh in their formula. The most heavily weighed is playing time and salary. This might lead some to ask "But, Levi, the players the Raiders lost got much bigger salaries and contracts than the ones they signed. Doesn't that mean something?" The answer in this case is no. It would only matter if the number of players the Raiders lost was equal or greater than the number of players they signed.

Conclusion: The Raiders will likely not receive any compensatory picks this year (with an outside chance they could get a pick at the tail end of the seventh round).

This means the Raiders have seven picks in the draft with picks in rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 (2). They traded the fifth round pick to the Seahawks for Matt Flynn and acquired the extra round seven pick from the Cardinals in the Carson Palmer trade.