The bad news is that the Kansas City Chiefs are seeing their best free agents walk out the door and sign with other teams. The good news is that the Chiefs will be getting at least some of that value back in the form of compensatory picks.
Compensatory picks are based on what happens in the prior year's free agency. So that means for the current free agency period, compensatory picks would be awarded in the 2015 NFL Draft, not this upcoming one in May.
The formula for determining compensatory picks is probably complex. I say probably because the formula is not publicly available. But here's what we do know:
- Teams are awarded compensatory pick(s) based on how many free agents they lost vs. how many they signed. So the Chiefs, who have lost a lot of free agents but not signed any, would be rewarded because of how many they lost.
- Only "true" free agents factor in. Those are the players who have an expiring contract, not players who were cut from their previous team before their contract was up. For example, Branden Albert is a true free agent because his contract expired while Dunta Robinson is not because he was cut before his contract was up. So signing a big name player who was cut by his previous team would not affect compensatory picks.
- The highest compensatory pick is a third rounder.
So the question is what kind of compensatory picks can the Chiefs expect in 2015? There is no exact answer right now and there won't be until free agency is over. But I can comfortably predict there will be at least one or more because the Chiefs don't look like they're about to up and out do Branden Albert's contract with the Dolphins.
Let's compare this year's free agents to what happened in 2012.
Free agents lost: Brandon Carr, Le'Ron McClain, Kyle Orton, Barry Richardson
Free agents signed: Peyton Hillis, Brady Quinn
The total value of the contracts of the free agents lost was around $70 million bucks, give or take a million. Meanwhile, Hillis and Quinn's deal was around $5 million. For these free agents in 2012, the Chiefs were awarded a third and sixth round compensatory pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. That third round pick turned into Knile Davis. Not bad, huh?
Compare that to the Chiefs free agents signings today. Five of them have signed with other teams and all are multi-year deals. Already the total numbers are over $100 million and that doesn't include Geoff Schwartz.
There's more that goes into the formula, such as playing time and postseason honors but money is a big one, too.
You get a max of 4 compensatory picks, so if they Chiefs were to sign a UFA to offset a 'loss' you could still expect 4 comp picks— Jinx (@JinxFootball) March 11, 2014
All that said ... you'd expect the Chiefs to do pretty well with compensatory picks in the 2015 NFL Draft.