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What 2022 compensatory picks could the LA Rams receive?

The Rams should receive the maximum allowed

NFL: JUL 30 Rams Training Camp Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I am more of a fan of watching NFL games on Sunday than I am obsessing over the 200th pick in a given draft, but everybody has a right to their own hobbies. Starting in 1995 in an effort to help the NFL’s worst franchises (and like usual, not actually doing much for competitive balance), the Ravens, Packers, Patriots, Cowboys, and Steelers have received the most compensatory picks.

But these teams didn’t win games or Super Bowls because they had compensatory picks. They got compensatory picks because they won games and built rosters so well that they couldn’t afford to keep all their quality players. Instead, those players went to the Jaguars, played poorly for two seasons, and returned to their original teams, which is also where a recent third round pick was playing because he was a comp pick for the first player.

Competitive “balance.”

The Rams have received the seventh-most comp picks all-time, with their greatest stretch of compensation coming from 2003-2005, when they received the maximum allowed of four in each of those years. The Rams won an average of 11 games between 1999 and 2003, but went into a slide beginning in 2004 despite those 12 additional picks that they were awarded.

Flash forward to 2019 and the Rams receive four compensatory picks again, unsurprisingly the year after they reached the Super Bowl. LA also received a third round comp in 2020 and will have extra picks in rounds three and four next month because of free agent losses a year ago. The Rams’ recent success leads to more picks but will more picks do anything to the Rams’ future — unlike the last time?

Last year, Dante Fowler received $15 million AAV (average annual value) from the Falcons and that just barely snuck in under the wire to net LA a third round comp pick; Cory Littleton received $11.75 million AAV from the Raiders, giving the Rams the 136th overall pick in the upcoming draft. The team will also be getting a third round comp pick in 2021 and 2022 because the Detroit Lions hired Brad Holmes to be their general manager.

So long as LA doesn’t sign a comparable free agent eligible for the comp pick formula (explainer here) they will receive a comp pick for the loss of safety John Johnson. Will it be a third or fourth round comp pick?

The reality of the situation is that the Rams aren’t near to getting a third round comp pick for Johnson, who is treading dangerously close at this point to the fifth round compensatory range:

Top FA contracts:

  • Bud Dupree, Steelers to Titans, $16.5 AAV
  • Joe Thuney, Patriots to Chiefs, $16 AAV
  • Trey Hendrickson, Saints to Bengals, $15 AAV
  • Carl Lawson, Bengals to Jets, $15 AAV
  • Matt Judon, Ravens to Patriots, $13.625 AAV
  • William Jackson, Bengals to Football, $13.5 AAV
  • Shaquill Griffin, Seahawks to Jaguars, $13.3 AAV
  • Yannick Ngakoue, Ravens to Raiders, $13 AAV
  • Corey Linsley, Packers to Chargers, $12.5 AAV
  • Jonnu Smith, Titans to Patriots, $12.5 AAV
  • Hunter Henry, Chargers to Patriots, $12.5 AAV
  • Corey Davis, Titans to Jets, $12.5 AAV
  • Curtis Samuel, Panthers to Football, $11.5 AAV
  • John Johnson, Rams to Browns, $11.25 AAV

Right now, Johnson has the 14th-biggest AAV of any free agent who went from one team to another without being cut this year. But some of these teams won’t receive a comp pick because they also signed a similar free agent:

  • The Patriots probably won’t get a third round comp for Thuney because they signed Judon.
  • The Bengals probably won’t get a third round comp for Lawson because they signed Hendrickson, but they also lost Jackson.
  • The Chargers won’t get a third round comp pick for Henry because they signed Linsley.
  • The Titans won’t get a third round comp pick for Smith because they signed Dupree.

This would move LA four spots up the list and make Johnson the 10th-highest free agent in the comp formula.

  • Bud Dupree, Steelers to Titans, $16.5 AAV
  • Joe Thuney, Patriots to Chiefs, $16 AAV
  • Trey Hendrickson, Saints to Bengals, $15 AAV
  • Carl Lawson, Bengals to Jets, $15 AAV
  • Matt Judon, Ravens to Patriots, $13.625 AAV
  • William Jackson, Bengals to Football, $13.5 AAV
  • Shaquill Griffin, Seahawks to Jaguars, $13.3 AAV
  • Yannick Ngakoue, Ravens to Raiders, $13 AAV
  • Corey Linsley, Packers to Chargers, $12.5 AAV
  • Jonnu Smith, Titans to Patriots, $12.5 AAV
  • Hunter Henry, Chargers to Patriots, $12.5 AAV
  • Corey Davis, Titans to Jets, $12.5 AAV
  • Curtis Samuel, Panthers to Football, $11.5 AAV
  • John Johnson, Rams to Browns, $11.25 AAV

But that’s not all, because some teams were written off because of signings that weren’t quite as comparable and still qualify as offsetting:

  • The Seahawks signed Ahkello Witherspoon and Gerald Everett, so they get no comp picks for Griffin and Carlos Hyde.
  • The Titans signed Denico Autry, so they won’t get anything for Corey Davis.
  • The Panthers signed Haason Reddick, so they won’t get anything for Samuel.

That leaves the comp pick formula order as:

  • Dupree
  • Lawson
  • Linsley
  • Judon
  • Hendrickson
  • Ngakoue
  • Johnson

Teams waiting for comp pick news:

  • Steelers
  • Saints
  • Ravens x2
  • Bengals
  • Packers
  • Rams

The Steelers, Saints, Packers, and Rams would not seem to have enough cap space remaining in order to sign an offsetting contract, so I’d say those four teams would have to release or trade somebody before they could sign a player who offsets.

The Ravens and Bengals might have to proceed with caution as to how they approach what money they have left, lest they lose a comp pick.

As of now, it looks like John Johnson will net LA a fourth round compensatory pick in 2022, but there are still high-profile free agents remaining (read the best available here) who could push him down the AAV ladder: Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Will Fuller could all clear $12 million AAV, even or especially on a one-year deal. What that means for comp-obsessed Rams fans: root for Smith-Schuster to return to the Steelers and for Golladay and Fuller to sign with teams who are in line to receive comp picks and have needs at receiver, like the Ravens.

It may also be presently true that the $6 million AAV of Samson Ebukam and Gerald Everett could net LA sixth round picks in 2022, but there are still dozens of notable free agents yet to sign who could get more than that; and we also can’t rule out the Rams signing a free agent who offsets their sixth round pick. Morgan Fox also signed for $6 million per year, but teams can only receive up to four comp picks, so it doesn’t matter.

Poll

Would you rather the Rams sign a player who could be a starter for them next season or get a 2022 sixth round comp pick?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Starter
    (482 votes)
  • 9%
    2022 Sixth Round Comp (roughly pick 210)
    (53 votes)
535 votes total Vote Now

As of Thursday morning, OvertheCap.com has projected a third round pick for Dupree, but the rest of the third round comps are related to the Rooney Rule that will net extra selections for the Rams, 49ers, Ravens, and Saints because minority candidates were hired as GMs or head coaches out of their organization.

OtC’s order for fourth round picks: Bengals, Packers, Ravens, Saints, Ravens, then the Rams. LA is followed by the Cowboys getting a fourth for the loss of Andy Dalton to the Bears, and then the fifth round compensatory picks begin. I am not 100-percent sure if there really won’t be more third round comp picks for players other than Dupree, but it is improbable that Johnson will elevate that high.

That leaves the current 2022 comp picks for LA as: a third, a fourth, and two sixths.

But there are quite a few signings left to be completed, including potentially by the Rams.