NFC West: adamjt13

The NFL lockout sharpens our focus on the 2011 draft by postponing indefinitely free agency and trades involving players.

Teams interested in wheeling and dealing have few options during a lockout. They can still trade draft choices, which got me thinking about what NFC West teams could get in return for their first-round selections.

Specifically, what could the Arizona Cardinals expect to receive in return for the fifth overall choice? The trade-value chart can help, and I was happy to stumble across this handy calculator for analyzing trades during the draft.

History provides another guide. What has the fifth choice returned previously? Two resources became starting points for finding out.

AdamJT13, known around here for his wizardry in projecting compensatory choices, put together a list showing trades involving only draft picks (not players and picks). Another site, this one maintained by Frank Marousek, logs trades by year and identifies the players teams drafted with those choices. Both sites were helpful.

Let's count this as the first in a series of items revisiting NFL trades involving the first-round draft choices NFC West teams hold this year. I'll begin with the fifth overall choice because it's the highest one an NFC West team holds. The division's other first-round choices carried more instructive recent histories, I thought.

The pick: Fifth overall

Held by: Arizona Cardinals

Most recent trade involving only picks: 1999. This one won't help establish value for the fifth pick. Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints traded their entire 1999 draft, plus first- and third-round choices in 2000, to the Washington Redskins for the fifth choice. The Saints selected running back Ricky Williams. That type of trade isn't happening again, most likely. For reference, though, the Saints parted with the 12th, 71st, 107th, 144th, 179th and 218th picks in the 1999 draft, plus those early picks in 2000.

Previous trade: 1994. The Los Angeles Rams sent the fifth overall choice to Indianapolis for the seventh and 83rd choices. The trade-value chart says this was close to an even swap. It values the fifth choices at 1,700 points. The seventh and 83rd choices add up to 1,695 points. In this case, the Colts drafted Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts with the fifth pick. The Rams sent the seventh choice to the San Francisco 49ers in a separate deal. The 49ers used the choice wisely, selecting Bryant Young.

Note: The New York Jets acquired the fifth overall choice from the Cleveland Browns in 2009, selecting quarterback Mark Sanchez. That deal included multiple veteran players. I've excluded deals involving players in part because the lockout prevents teams from trading players. Also, it's tougher to determine values for players than it is for draft choices.
AdamJT13 advances an ongoing conversation on compensatory draft choices in his latest post on the subject.

At issue: to what degree NFL teams should consider gaining or losing compensatory choices when signing unrestricted free agents.

AdamJT13 knows this subject better than anyone I've encountered outside the league and better than lots of league people. He works at it, and it shows. One point in his latest post covers how the timing of a player's release can affect draft compensation.

Basically, the Cardinals could have gained a third-round compensatory choice in the 2010 draft if they would have released running back Jason Wright before Week 10 last season. Teams obviously can't make roster moves based solely on compensatory picks. They must try to win games. But at what point does the reward -- in this case, a third-round choice -- justify releasing a player with moderate value?

Every player has a price and teams would release lots of mid-tier players late in a season if they could recoup high enough draft choices.
AdamJT13: The Cardinals might argue that they were in the hunt for a playoff spot, a division title or even a championship, and getting rid of a trusted veteran who provides depth at running back and contributes on special teams wouldn't help them achieve their ultimate goal. Whether that's a good enough reason to forgo a third-round comp pick is debatable, but it at least can be taken into consideration when judging the Cardinals' decision.

The broader issue is simply that teams should know the full implications of their actions. Thanks to AdamJT13, the rest of us can have a better idea, too.

Could Morey cost a draft choice?

March, 29, 2010
3/29/10
3:26
PM ET
The Seahawks might have parted with a 2011 sixth-round choice while handing a 2011 seventh-rounder to Arizona -- all for Sean Morey.

John Clayton's latest mailbag brought to mind the possibilities.

By Clayton's calculations, the Seahawks appeared in line for fourth- and sixth-round choices in 2011 based on their gains and losses in free agency through the weekend. Seattle had lost unrestricted free agents Nate Burleson and Cory Redding without signing a UFA from another team. Morey's signing Monday changes the equation because he was a UFA. As Clayton notes, the equation could change further if the Seahawks sign additional UFAs such as Ben Hamilton or Chester Pitts.

That might be OK with the Seahawks. They'll be happy if Morey and any other UFAs they sign play extensively and produce for them. But if the Cardinals were going to part with Morey anyway, they were better off having him sign as a UFA.

Arizona has signed Rex Hadnot and Paris Lenon in free agency after losing Karlos Dansby. Morey's departure as a UFA could help Arizona's compensatory equation.

These projections change as teams continue to make moves in free agency. But with the most desirable UFAs off the market, teams might be wise to consider future compensatory choices when choosing between UFAs and veterans who were released or came available by other means.

Last offseason, the Cardinals' decision to sign UFA fullback Jason Wright might have cost the team a 2010 third- or fourth-round compensatory choice for losing Antonio Smith, according to detailed projections from AdamJT13.

Could Cardinals add third-rounder?

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
3:22
PM ET
It's impossible to set the full 2010 NFL draft order until the league reveals its compensatory choices at its spring meetings later this month.

In the meantime, AdamJT13 is back with his annual forecasts. AdamJT13 comes close to projecting which teams will receive additional choices and in what rounds, and he explains the process in greater detail than the league, which hasn't revealed the exact formula used for determining which teams get what picks.

The way AdamJT13 sees things, the Cardinals have an outside chance at gaining a compensatory choice as early as the third round, depending upon how much the league values fullback Jason Wright's contributions last season.

AdamJT13: "If Jason Wright does not qualify, Arizona will receive a comp pick for Antonio Smith in either the third round or fourth round, most likely in the third, after Cincinnati's comp pick for T.J. Houshmandzadeh."

That would be significant for the Cardinals, who already hold two third-round choices. Wright played not quite 9 percent of the offensive snaps and about two-thirds of the special-teams plays for Arizona last season. I'll see what I can uncover about how Wright might be valued for these purposes.

AdamJT13 expects Wright to qualify because Aaron Glenn, a player valued similarly last offseason, qualified under the NFL's formula.

One note about compensatory picks: Teams cannot trade them.

Also: The Seahawks and Cardinals weren't just helping themselves when they signed unrestricted free agents Houshmandzadeh and Bryant McFadden, respectively, last offseason. They might have also helped those players' former teams land extra selections in the 2010 NFL draft, according to the projections.

The Bengals and Steelers could be in line for some of the better compensatory draft choices awarded each spring to offset net losses in free agency.

AdamJT13 is also projecting extra third-round picks for Tennessee, Cincinnati and Atlanta. He projects two extra fifth-rounders for Pittsburgh and one for Atlanta. The signings of McFadden and Houshmandzadeh played into the projections.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The first stage in the process of determining compensatory choices for the 2010 draft passed quietly with the June 1 deadline for NFL teams to make qualifying offers to unrestricted free agents. No team extended an offer to a UFA candidate. That means no additional UFA signings this offseason will influence compensatory choices.

The compensatory formula is complex. AdamJT13 has come close to solving it. Basically, the NFL awards additional draft choices to teams that lost free agents more valuable than the free agents teams signed. Values are determined by salaries and on-field contributions.

I had pulled a list of free agents NFC West teams added and lost when I noticed AdamJT13 had already done it on his blog. He notes that it's not yet known whether NFL teams extended qualifying offers to any UFAs. I can provide a small assist here by confirming that no teams extended qualifying offers to any UFAs.

A team-by-team look at the early compensatory picture in the NFC West:
Arizona: The Cardinals added two UFAs from other teams and lost four. They paid $5 million per year to cornerback Bryant McFadden. They lost defensive end Antonio Smith to a deal worth $7.1 million per season. How much those players play and at what level they perform could prove influential. And if former Cardinals cornerback Eric Green enjoys a bounce-back season with the Dolphins, that could improve Arizona's compensatory ledger.

St. Louis: The Rams do not appear to be in strong position in the compensatory race. Center Jason Brown, added from the Ravens at $7.5 million per season, should more than cancel out the Rams' three UFA losses (offensive linemen Brett Romberg, Nick Leckey and Brandon Gorin). The Rams also added Kyle Boller, James Butler and Billy Bajema.

San Francisco: The 49ers also do not appear to be in strong position in the compensatory race. Additions Brandon Jones, Marvel Smith, Demetric Evans and Moran Norris could play quite a bit. The players San Francisco lost -- Bryant Johnson, Ronald Fields, J.T. O'Sullivan, Donald Strickland, Bajema and Sean Ryan -- appear unlikely to cancel out the additions.

Seattle: I would like to hear AdamJT13's analysis on the Seahawks' compensatory situation. The team spent $8 million per season for receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and nearly $4.4 million per season for defensive tackle Colin Cole. The team lost defensive tackle Rocky Bernard ($4 million), running back Maurice Morris ($2.1 million), fullback Leonard Weaver (nearly $1.8 million), receiver Bobby Engram ($1.25 million) and offensive lineman Floyd Womack ($1 million) among its seven departures.

AdamJT13 was good about helping out when I asked for his input earlier this year. Here's hoping we hear from him again.
2009 Draft Round Rams Picks Hawks Picks 49ers Picks Cards Picks
First
1 1 1 1
Second
1 1 1 1
Third
1 1 1 1
Fourth 1 1 1 1
Fifth 1 0 2* 1
Sixth 1 1 2* 1
Seventh 1 5* 1 2*
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The mysterious AdamJT13 is back with his annual analysis on compensatory picks.

The NFL distributes these extra choices during its spring meetings (scheduled for March 22-25 this year). The leauge uses a complicated formula to award picks to teams as compensation for the free agents they lost in the previous year. Note: Teams cannot trade compensatory picks.

AdamJT13 has figured out the formula well enough to provide largely accurate projections. I have used his projections to show how many total picks each NFC West team might have in the 2009 draft.

The asterisks reflect totals affected by AdamJT13's projections. He expects the 49ers to gain one choice in each of the fifth and sixth rounds. He expects the Seahawks to gain four seventh-round choices. He expects the Cardinals to gain on seventh-round choice.

I know NFL executives who say they can accurately forecast the rounds for all compensatory picks. AdamJT13 comes closer than anyone I've seen outside an NFL organization -- assuming he does not work for an NFL team. His identity remains unknown to me and others. If you know him or if you are him, we'd love to learn more. His blog is here.

Note: Kingz49ers asks if the 49ers lost Justin Smiley as an unrestricted free agent. They did. Smiley signed with the Dolphins for $5 million per season. He started 12 games, which probably works out to about 70 or 75 percent of the offensive snaps.

AdamJT13 follows up: To answer Kingz49ers's question, the 49ers lost Justin Smiley, Kwame Harris, Marques Douglas and Maurice Hicks, and they signed Justin Smith and Bryant Johnson. Smith had by far the highest value, and he cancels out the loss of Smiley. Johnson has the same value as a seventh-rounder. If Douglas' value is in the seventh round, Johnson cancels out him, and the 49ers get a seventh-round comp pick for Hicks. If Douglas' value is in the sixth round, Johnson cancels out Hicks, and the 49ers get a sixth-round comp pick for Douglas.

Thanks everyone.

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