With FA losses, comp picks in play for Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2017 – 10:03 am

The Cardinals would’ve liked to keep Calais Campbell. And Tony Jefferson (or D.J. Swearinger), and Marcus Cooper too. But the prices got to be a lot larger than the team wanted to pay, and there was a flip side to those players defecting — and to the way the Cardinals have looked at bringing in free agents themselves over the last few days: Compensatory picks.

Comp picks are the extra selections at the end of each round, starting in the third, that teams get after all the free agent comings and goings are tallied. The NFL keeps the formula for comp picks secret, although a) it’s determined by each team’s free agents losses and gains, along with the size of those players’ new contracts, plus playing time and postseason honors; and b) there are only so many in a draft.

(This was made painfully clear to the Cardinals recently. The Cardinals get an extra fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft next month, and they had qualified for three other extra seventh-round picks — but the NFL caps the total number of comp picks at 32, and since teams across the league qualified for 39 total, the last seven didn’t count. The extra three of the Cards’ picks fell in that last seven “dead zone.”)

There are other things that dictate the comings-and-goings part of the comp pick equation. Players who are in the league 10 years or more don’t matter as much (so the Cards aren’t really hurt by the “coming” of Karlos Dansby, who was basically canceled out by the “going” of Alex Okafor to the Saints). This only applies to free agents who had contracts expire (so Antoine Bethea, cut by San Francisco, does not count in the equation.)

A team would max out with four comp picks in any given draft. Right now, it looks like the Cardinals would be in line for four — four pretty good ones. Those that break this down (the best they can, given the secrecy of the exact formula) estimate the Cardinals gaining potentially two third-round picks in 2018, plus a couple of others. Even if one of the picks isn’t a third but a fourth, plus a couple of other later ones in the fifth- or sixth-round to get to the maximum four, it would give the Cardinals a lot of firepower in the 2018 draft. (If it played out like that, it’d be 10 draft picks, because the Cards traded their 2018 seventh-rounder to Kansas City for Cooper).

Nothing is set in stone, but the money is a big driver in comp picks and at this point, you figure the big money in free agency is already gone. If the Cards were going to lose high-profile free agents, they at least figure to get something out of it.

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36 Responses to “With FA losses, comp picks in play for Cards”

  1. By Big Ken on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    I know we traded for him but Marcus Cooper didn’t show much as the season wore on. Glad to see Chicago overpay.

  2. By Ric Italia on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Keim needs to do a better job of hitting on the Cards draft picks. Be it normal picks and comp picks.

  3. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Ric —

    RE: Keim/draft

    He’s acknowledged as such:

  4. By birdgangrising on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Not a bad strategy. Sign some older guys right now to hopefully get by for one year, then restock in the draft in 2018. There’s enough other talent on this team that as long as guys like Dansby and Bethea don’t come in and drop off completely there’s no reason the Cards can’t still compete.

  5. By LadyBird04 on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Four comp picks would put the Cardinals in a position to trade some of their “regular” draft picks if they chose to move up in the draft should the Perfect QBOTF available in the draft next year. IMHO I don’t see that perfect player in this year’s draft class. They would still have the comp picks available to them to fill out the roster as the needs become apparent. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe comp picks can be traded.

  6. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    LadyBird —

    RE: Trades

    The rules changed this year and comp picks can now be traded.

  7. By Big Ken on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Darren do you see the Cardinals considering any FA running backs? Buyer beware.

  8. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Big Ken —

    RE: FA RBs

    I do not at this point.

  9. By JTDG on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    After reading many comments on this board it is interesting how the fans differ in what the want or believe the way the cards should be going. (including me)

    But taking a step back, I am beginning to see what Keim is doing. (Tell me if I am wrong Darren)
    Whether one agrees with it is another story, but I am seeing his plan.

    It is a sound plan that all comes down to the draft. If you draft well, this is a perfect strategy.

    You are beginning to see the churn, not at the bottom of the line up, but at the top.
    We watched vets like Campbell, Floyd and Jefferson leave this year and we will see Palmer and Fitz leave next year.

    I would bet my house we will see the departure or Veldheer and Iupati next year also if they find players in the draft this year.

    The cards have decided not to bring in high priced FAs, but instead, draft the replacements. You have watched the cards over the last 2 years draft a LT in Humphries, An OLB in Golden, DE’s in Nkemdiche and Gunter, WRs in Brown and Nelson, Guards/centers in Boehn and Toner, a CB in Williams, and a star in David Johnson.

    Now you are watching them gather extra draft picks for 2018 draft.

    They will fill spots that will be vacant from Vets leaving with draft picks. This 2017 draft is loaded with talent, and would expect the team to trade down to gather more picks. Then, look at safety,a tackle/guard, WR, ILB, and possibly QB. (not in any particular order)

    This is how Keim (I believe) believes he can build the team and if his picks produce, he will be a great GM. If they don’t, he will be run out of town in a couple years.

    As for the vets brought in like Dansby and Bethea, they are stop gaps. Guys to hold down a spot till a rookie is ready.

    As I said, this is as sound a strategy as there is. Build through the draft and stay away from other teams high priced FAs.

    Loving Keim and his direction really comes down to two things;

    1. Do you like Keim’s drafts? If you do, you are loving the direction the cards are going. If you do not, you see vets leaving with no replacements and talent depletion.

    2. Do you believe the cards have enough to win now? If you do, you believe the all in strategy that Keim was referring to is working and this is the cards year. If you do not, then you feel the cards missed an opportunity and they don’t have the talent to win it all.

    Only time will tell.

  10. By clssylssy on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Being eligible for draft picks and actually receiving them sre often two different things & Keim doesn’t even do well with the draft in any case. I would rather have the talent we know is proven than to take a wild flyer on some unknown project fo the future who might not even be kept on the PS.
    Basically, we are talking hypotheticals here and there is no way we are going to even come close to making up our loss as Calais won’t be given full credit but will be “marked down” because he is “old”.

  11. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Clssy —

    RE: Campbell

    No one said it was a straight-up even swap. But Campbell wasn’t coming back for $30M in two years. So if he’s leaving anyway, it’s good to get something out of it.

  12. By D on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Lacy weighing 267 lbs this week..Los better wear his big boy pads for that game..

    The amount of holes to fill and the lack of free agent signings, guessing Keim will need to make this draft look like the Fitz/Dansby/Dockett draft…


    If Foster and Lattimore are gone by #13 next month…then I would try to fill the most pressing holes as the following:

    Round 1- F. Lamp OL. He will be a good G in the NFL, I would put him at RG for the next 5 years.

    Round 2- P. Mahomes II. QB. With the apparent roster overhaul next year at this time, Keim will need to draft a QB to learn for one year under Palmer.

    Round 3- Alex Anzalone ILB If he can stay healthy, would be a nice LB to learn under Dansby that can cover.

    Round 4. K. King CB. I am thinking BA likes his CBs opposite of PP and still believe a Veteran CB will be signed in the next few weeks, but they need more CB’s to add to the roster. .

    Round 5. T. Rudolph WR. Another big WR in case J. Brown knee needs more time to recover.

    Rest of draft for depth, S, TE, DL, OL.

  13. By mitchaz on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Days 4,5,6::


    OLB/DE Alex Okafor—wanted to have a chance to start and he gets it with the Saints on a one year deal that with incentives could reach $3M.


    RB Andre Ellington—this is a sign that clearly the Cardinals do not value toughness and STs improvement. Sure, Ellington has open field skills as a receiver out of the backfield or as a bounce wide RB. But, he’s not tough enough to run between the tackles, nor is he tough enough to block, nor is he any factor whatsoever on STs. One could ask, could he be a factor as a slot WR? Certainly, he has the speed and elusiveness to gain separation, but can he beat press coverage and withstand the pounding that slot WRs take when safeties bear down on them after the catch? Again, this is where toughness and durability matter. If he makes the team, the only way he is active on game days is if David Johnson and/or Kerwynn Williams is hurt. He’s not going to be the #4 WR. As a backup RB and WR he would have to be a factor on STs to be active on game days. And that is not happening. One of the encouraging things about K. Williams is that last in the season he recorded 4 tackles in the last 4 games on STs. Yes, he blew two blocks that led to punt blocks, but he should have never been assigned as the punt protector by BA’s “brilliant” STs coordinator.

    Cardinals’ UFA Visits Elsewhere:

    LB Kevin Minter—Colts.

    UFA Visits tio Cardinals:

    OLB Jarvis Jones (PIT)—Jones is an intriguing player. He has yet to develop as a formidable edge rusher, although in the right system he might emerge, because there si some suddenness to his game. What he has shown is a good ability to set the edge as a 34OLB and the range to cover and chase down QBs and RBs. This is where James Bettcher could get creative. With the loss of Calais Campbell, if Bettcher was give a good base 34 OLB like Jones, in the base 34, he could slide Chandler Jones down to the play Campbell’s 5 technique and play Jones beside him on the edge. The Patriots liked doing that with Jones from time to time. And in passing situations, Jones would spend most of the time at rush DE, and some of the time as rush DT. Not sure, however, if the Cardinals are all that serious about signing Jarvis Jones. Word is the Cardinals want Okafor back, and that the Rams and DC Wade Phillips are in hot pursuit of Jones. Jones visits with them today and will likely sign with them. The Cardinals’ interest in Jones appears to be token, even with Okafor’s departure.

    At this point in the Cardinals’ dormant approach to free agency, two things have become crystal clear: (1) BA’s prediction at the Combine that the Cardinals would lose “2 or 3” free agents is laughable; (2) Steve Keim is already preparing for the 2018 rebuild and has been since the Chandler Jones trade last year.

    This is strange response from the Cardinals’ FO to the underwhelming 2016 7-8-1 season. It feels akin to the coaches’ and players’ response to the humiliating beatdown by Carolina in the 2015 NFC Championship Game by turning in what was, for all intents and purposes, a no-show in the 2016 pre-season and a lethargic 1-3 start, going 1-2 at home.

    As was the case after Kurt Warner’s two brilliant years in 2008 and 2009….the Cardinals cannot seem to handle success. They remain a house of cards ready to fall at the slightest breeze. They remain pretenders—not contenders. Despite what they try to sell to the fans.

    And here’s a possible forecast of what Cardinals’ fans are likely to see in 2018. BA, Fitz and Palmer will be retired. BA will take over for Terry McDonough as VP of Player Personnel, James Bettcher becomes the newly appointed head coach signing a 5 year $25M deal. Harold Goodwin remains the OC, only now he will be calling the plays for real. Freddie Kitchens becomes the passing game coordinator. Brentson Buckner is named the DC. Drew Stanton is re-signed to a 2 year $12M deal with incentives while second year QB Davis Webb is still “learning the system.” Although this forecast may seem satirical, this is pretty much in line with the current decision making in the FO and from BA.

  14. By georgiebird on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    I hear you Darren. The loss of CC, Swearinger, Cooper and others to come is not the end of the world and those players seemed to price themselves out of the Cardinals’ budget.
    But the Cards have to make a decision- Do the Cards want to be in the world of overpriced and overpaid players OR NOT.
    In PP and HB, the Cards have some overpaid players of their own.
    Can’t always use the rationalization that a player priced himself out of the Cardinals’ price range. It’s time the Cardinals made a decision to either be players in the hunt for talent or bargain hunters.
    Let’s face it – everybody except Brady is overpaid.

  15. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: “made a decision”

    They make these decisions on a case-by-case basis. It’s not everybody or nobody. That’s foolish to look at it that way. No one does — not the Patriots, Steelers, or any other team.

    It’s not a rationalization. It’s a decision reached through analytics, studying the league and past performances of all NFL players.

    And Keim already has talked about making those decisions.

  16. By dhjepsen on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Which are tbe biggest needs right now? Cornerback of course? DE, DT? OG as well?

  17. By KMART on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply


    How do you see them addressing the DB, WR, and G positions; 1-year FA deals or the draft? Do they have any interest in Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne? How about DJ Fluker at G?

  18. By Darren Urban on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    KMart —

    RE: FAs

    I don’t see Claiborne — he’s smaller than what they like at CB. We’ll see what prices those guys are at in a couple of weeks or so.

  19. By D on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    I would give up a 2nd round draft pick in 2018 for Jordan Matthews, WR from Philly.

  20. By Scott H on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Well….OK. But here is the way I’m looking at it ( simple or not ) – they are getting comp picks for 2018 ( NEXT YEAR, when we are probably done with Palmer, done with Fitz, in full re-building mode ) but we will be without the high profile FA’s ( = some pretty damn talented players ) THIS year, when we are supposed to be trying to win a damn SB.

    Call me an idiot if ya want, but I’m just not of the mind set of feeling psyched about the 2018 season right now. I’m a lot more interested in what we’re putting on the field right now.

    Jarvis Jones seems a decent signing but as Okafor goes out the door, it’s a wash. Maybe.

    Look, hate to keep harping on this but we KNOW what we lost in Campbell, Jefferson, and Swearinger. Do we KNOW what we’re getting from a 32 year old Beathea or a soon-to-be 36 year old Karlos Dansby or a Jarvis Jones ( who the Steelers let go so they could stay with an ancient James Harrison?? )?

  21. By Joel Welden-Smith on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    LOL at all these fools who think they can criticize Keim’s drafting. Stop being armchair quarterbacks and go back to your boring jobs.

  22. By Christian on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Well, feels like the J. Jones signing helps keep our pass rush stable. Helps to have Dansby, who will be better for us on passing downs than Minter was. Now we just need more stable play from our CB2, either through Bethel/Williams improving or the draft, and our defense will be good to go!

    I wish we could improve our offense before the draft, but there were never good G options behind Zeitler and maybe Lang, and has Floyd as their top remaining receiver, so…

  23. By JTDG on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H,

    I feel you.

    I prefer the, “go get the guys to get you over the top and worry about 2018 next year” Philosophy. Especially when your legend WR and QB will leave after 2017.

    I also get what Keim is trying to do. (Not that I agree), but if he hits on draft picks, you would be happy to let guys leave.

    For instance, if he drafted DE Chris Jones instead of Nkemdichi, who played all year as a rookie very well, you would have less pain losing Campbell.
    or if he drafted Cody Whitehair instead of Nkemdichi, you feel better about the oline. If Niklas would have turned out, Gresham would not have been resigned and you would have more money. Think if Cooper and Watford worked out as guards, how different FA would have been the last couple years.

    You see the philosophy is good. And yes, you can’t hit them all. But even Keim talked about needing to hit more with the picks.With question marks surrounding Nkemdichi, Williams, Boehm, Niklas, Toner, fans are uneasy with Keim’s approach.

    For me, I would have reached and signed a couple free agents like Gilmore and Zeitler. But Keim is going to stand firm.

    We will see if it pays off.

  24. By joe holst on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    We need closers on defense as we gave up several leads in the 4th quarter, offense, Dalvin Cook or OJ Howard would be great.

  25. By GARY HICKERSON on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    The CARDINALS need DT ROBERT NKEMDICHE to step up!

  26. By creditcard on Mar 14, 2017 | Reply

    It appears the FA additions to the Cards is nothing more than a marketing ploy that the Cards are “trying” to sell to the fan base that they are improving.

    Older and slower is not a step in the right direction for winning the SB, instead it looks like the liquidation process of the Cards has begun.

  27. By Scott H on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    I see that Jarvis Jones is yet another one year deal….and I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated by this way of doing things. Because of all these one year deals we’ve seen during the last few off-seasons, what have we gotten out of ANY of them beyond ONE YEAR? Little to nothing. Really. It just seems like it sets us up to see those guys move on after they put in their one year – especially if they play well. So…what is the point? That is not the way to build a team.

  28. By Darren Urban on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: One year deals

    Look around the league. That’s what most of free agency is. Even Calais, top FA out there, signed what is essentially a two-year deal and he could be cut by then. It’s a year-to-year league for a good chunk of the roster — unless you are a draft pick.

  29. By Big Ken on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    I think if we draft an OL this year it will be in rounds 4-7.

  30. By NJ Cards Fan on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Build around your core young players and layer in low price vets who are willing to play for you because they love the coach and see a chance to win. That is the formula for most successful teams around the league. I like what they are doing but it is very true…need to make the right picks…especially early in the draft.

  31. By Scott H on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    RE: One year deals

    OK, I’m not going to dispute that it may have become a common practice around the league. But that doesn’t mean it is an effective way of doing things. The one year deals seem to have become a way to help teams work with the limitations of the cap. Since that is a reality….OK, I get it. But in terms of how it has played out here? The only team I really care about? It seems to be effective in terms of keeping us a certain level. Then, come the following season, the one year deals move on and we look for another batch.

    Pair that with our recent first round misses – the picks you absolutely NEED to pan out for you – and….it plays out as it has played out. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather be us than the Cleveland Browns. But truth be told, we haven’t won any more SB’s than they have.

    PS – and if we don’t get it right in the draft with a QB soon, we might just BE the Cleveland Browns pretty soon. Just sayin.

  32. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H and Darren,

    One year deals;

    IMO, one year deals are used as a bridge to fill a gap.

    What i mean by that is,
    Dansby was brought in in 2013. The cards drafted in round 2, Kevin Minter.
    Ideally, Dansby was only suppose to be here one year and Minter takes over.

    The problem was, Minter wasn’t that good. Dansby was amazing. Dansby gets a big contract with the Browns and the cards are left scrambling because Minter wasn’t good enough to start.

    The cards believe he needs one more year to develop. They bring in Larry Foote, who played well, on another 1 year deal. Foote retires and they turn it over to Minter finally. The cards decide not to bring back Minter and thus need a bridge between a need at ILB and a draft pick this year.

    Another great example is Cromartie. He was signed on a 1 year deal, as the cards thought they had something in Bethel but he needed more time. Cromartie lights it up and in 2015, the cards are scrambling for a CB because Bethel wasn’t good enough.

    Point I am making, the one year deals are to fill gaps between a need and a draft pick. Problem is, if the player does well, and the draft pick isn’t ready or isn’t good, it looks really bad to have revolving 1 year deals.

  33. By Scott H on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG –

    RE: Problem is, if the player does well….

    Well, let me finish the sentence this way –

    Dansby – played GREAT in 2013, gone in 2014

    Cromartie – played GREAT in 2014, gone in 2015

    Freeney – played GREAT in 2015, gone in 2016

    And there ya have it. These one year deals have been, in too many instances, for the Arizona Cardinals, a chance for the player to benefit from the one year deal by show-casing himself for the rest of the league. We’re left with the holes to fill.

    Look, winning a SB at the end of any one of those seasons would have shut me up. But when it doesn’t happen, it begins to look like a not so great way of doing things – regardless of how many teams are doing it.

    And FWIW, I will not be surprised if either TJ OR Swearinger turns out to be a guy we are ALL wishing was still here. I’ll say it again – we should NOT have lost them both. What Swearinger was at the time the Cardinals brought him is one thing – what he BECAME was quite another. THAT is the guy we should have kept, but didn’t.

  34. By JTDG on Mar 15, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H,

    I agree with what Keim is doing provided the draft pick is the right guy. And I think I have been Keim’s harshest critic when it comes to the draft.

    And Yes, I wish we signed Dansby and Cromartie to 3 year deals.

    Trust me, I am not trying to shut you up. And yes, I think TJ is going to be a top safety in this league and it was a mistake to let him leave.

    All I am trying to do is explain the logic behind it.

    If , in 2013, the cards drafted Jamie Collins, instead of Minter, then Dansby leaving would not have been an issue. , or if in 2012, they drafted Josh Norman (5th rounder in 2012) instead of Bethel (top of round 6 in 2012), nobody is missing Cromartie in 2015.

    The fact that the next player up was not good is the issue. The lack of evaluating talent is the issue of focus. Besides a really good 2015 draft, the cards drafts have been way below par since the 2004 draft.

    As for Freeney, I think I will take Golden and Jones. Freeney was a perfect bridge player to get Golden ready to take over. With Jones and Golden, I feel very good about the OLB spot. I can’t fault Keim on that one.

    What is scary and worrisome is how bad the 2016 draft was on the surface. Who knows, it may turn out to be a great draft. But we will see the cards fill holes with players from that draft and to me, that is not good enough.

  35. By Scott H on Mar 16, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG –

    I don’t think you are trying to shut me up, my friend. Ah, but I’m quite sure many others have wished for that! 🙂

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