Bent, TheJetsBlog.comAs most of you will be aware, we try to project the number of compensatory picks the Jets will have each season. The distribution of compensatory picks is based on a secret formula which even teams aren’t party to. A blogger named AdamJT13 gradually managed to reverse engineer an extremely accurate approximation of the formula a few years ago and we’ve been able to use that to come up with accurate projections for the Jets’ compensatory picks (or lack thereof) over the past couple of seasons.
In order to do this, we evaluate each potentially qualifying UFA loss or gain for the Jets and then project what picks that will entitle them to, based on the situation in previous years. My initial projection on this basis for the 2014 draft was that the Jets could qualify for four picks – a fourth rounder, a fifth rounder and two seventh rounders. You can read the basis for that here, along with a detailed explanation of the compensatory pick rules and what we’ve so far been able to determine affects the formula.
What we haven’t done is aim to project the compensatory picks for all 32 teams. This is something Adam used to do and the guys from Blogging the Beast have tried to run with the baton for the past few seasons. The same guys have just published this year’s forecast on Philly.com. This allows us to update our projection, because obviously the number of other teams with qualifying gains and losses will affect where the Jets’ compensatory picks fall. In a year with a paucity of big money deals, the picks to be awarded would be more likely to be more valuable than the projection. However, in a top-heavy year, picks could end up being downgraded or not even qualify at all.
The good news is that their projection also has the Jets receiving four compensatory picks (which you may recall Adam Schefter saying that the Jets were counting on and had planned their 2013 free agency strategy around). The bad news is that, having read this, I’m actually less convinced than I was before that this is what the Jets will end up with. Find out why after the jump.
Differences between the projections
In my initial projection, the Jets would have no qualifying losses and four qualifying gains, ending up with a 4th rounder (Landry), a 5th rounder (DeVito) and two 7th rounders (Bell and Slauson). This came with the caveat that both Bell and Slauson could be right on the bubble because the lowest salary to earn a compensatory pick in 2013 was a minimum salary of $840,000. Bell’s salary was higher than that but was also a minimum salary. Slauson’s was actually lower, although it was $100,000 over the minimum for a fifth year player. Here’s where seeing the projected gains and losses for all 32 teams can be instructive.
In the Philly.com projection, the Jets actually have TWO qualifying losses and SIX qualifying gains, so their projection awards the Jets the maximum of four picks based on the four most valuable contracts. They come up with a 5th for Landry and a 6th rounder for DeVito, plus 6th rounders also for Greene and Keller (each of whom I hadn’t been expecting to qualify).
The advantage of these annual projections is that every year produces anomalies which enable us to become more and more accurate. The status of players who spent the year on injured reserve would appear to be one of these. Whereas I’d previously assumed that the likes of Keller, Goodson and Barnes would not be qualifying losses on the basis that none of them would have met the playing time threshold – which has historically been around 20% of the snaps, it turns out that players on full injured reserve HAVE in fact qualified in the past. This is presumably under a similar set of rules as those that treat players as having accrued a season by being on injured reserve because they are on “full pay status”.
However, there are also examples of players whose salary was big enough for them to qualify but that spent the whole year on injured reserve and did not qualify. One such example was Tampa’s Antonio Crowell in 2010. The reason he did not qualify whereas others on injured reserve did isn’t obvious, but one theory is that he was only on a one year deal and spent the entirety of that season on the injured reserve list. There’s some logic to this because a player who went on injured reserve part of the way through the season or one that remains under contract because they signed a multi-year deal does still provide some benefit to their new team and therefore it’s not too much of a stretch to understand why they’d be treated as a qualifying gain. The bad news here is that if this theory is correct, then Keller (one year deal) would not qualify, but Goodson and Barnes (multi-year deals) potentially would, thereby reducing the Jets’ entitlement.
In terms of Barnes and Goodson, it will be interesting to see whether they both qualify by virtue of landing on injured reserve. It makes sense for Barnes to qualify because he had been on course to meet the minimum playing time requirement when he was injured and then spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. With Goodson, the position is more clouded because in the games he did play, he only saw action on fewer plays and four of the games he missed were due to being suspended – which is not “full pay status”.
If I had to predict, I would still say that Keller and Goodson probably don’t qualify, but Barnes does, which would reduce my projection down to three picks. Philly.com would still have the Jets with four if that was the case, but that’s because they have Greene as qualifying. The reason I don’t have Greene as qualifying is because he only played 14% of the snaps and as a general rule 20% was the cut-off point in previous seasons. The guys from Philly.com conceded that there was some guesswork involved with their own playing time projections. Greene was of course injured too, but not on injured reserve. There is one recent example of someone still qualifying when they played less than that – Drew Stanton, who played ZERO snaps. The assumption there was that the player perhaps qualified by virtue of the Colts making the postseason, although in retrospect, I think it might simply be because the Jets traded him for a pick and therefore are deemed to have gained from the transaction regardless of how much he plays.
There are also slight differences between the values assigned to each pick in my projection and those in Philly.com’s projection. I had Landry as a fourth rounder and DeVito as a fifth rounder (and also would have had Keller as a fifth rounder had he qualified), but their projection is a round later in each case. Here’s where the 32-team projection is useful because while I had been using the level of compensation in previous years, we can now see that there were more big money deals this year, with the likes of Baltimore, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Houston all having several big losses, perhaps as a deliberate strategy to earn each of them at least three picks. This could well downgrade the value of the Landry and DeVito picks. Both Landry and DeVito are right on the bubble, though, so it will depend what the formula spits out. The fact they both comfortably met the playing time criteria and were on teams that made the postseason could be enough to bump them back up.
Finally, we can also get more insight into the likelihood of Bell and Slauson qualifying. Although the Philly.com projection for some reason issues 36 picks instead of the usual 32 (EDIT: This has now been corrected on their forecast), there are qualifying players on there with lower salaries than either of them, so this provides comfort that these should still count – whether that be to net off against another pick or to earn a seventh rounder in their own right.
There’s a lot of trial and error involved here and we still have a ways to go before we can predict these choices with 100% accuracy. In the past few seasons, the projection for the Jets has been straightforward enough for me to nail down, but this year there are several items where we can’t be certain which way the chips will fall and therefore we’re left with a situation where the best case scenario would land the Jets four picks (4, 5, 5, 6) and the worst case scenario (only Landry and DeVito qualify and are netted off by the Goodson and Barnes signings) would leave them with a seventh rounder at best and possibly even nothing.
The fact that players on injured reserve have been counted in the past is an eye-opener, necessitating an update to the previous projection. I still think it’s likely Keller, Greene and Goodson don’t qualify based upon the information above, which would leave the Jets with three picks rather than the four they’d been anticipating. That would leave them with a 7th rounder, one pick that would either be a 4th or a 5th and one that would be a 5th or a 6th.
Ultimately, we won’t know until the NFL announces the awarded picks in late March, but it does still look like the Jets will be in double-digits when all is said and done.