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2015 NFL Draft: New Orleans Saints are Projected to Receive a Compensatory Pick

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If all of the numbers align correctly, the Saints are projected to be picking Mr. Irrelevant with the final pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, which would be their tenth pick in this year's draft.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Compensatory Picks
Each year, during the NFL Draft, some teams are allotted a number of picks in addition to the standard seven picks granted each of the 32 franchises (before subtracting for league discipline).  A total of 32 extra picks, known as compensatory picks, are awarded to teams which lost more or better compensatory free agents than they signed during the previous year.  This means that Saints fans looking forward to compensatory picks in the draft after the loss of players during the 2015 league year will have to wait until the 2016 NFL Draft for any such picks.

The number of picks a team can receive equals the net loss of compensatory free agents, up to a maximum of four.  Teams that gain and lose the same number of players, but lose higher-valued players than they gain, can also be awarded a compensatory pick in the seventh round, after all other compensatory picks have been distributed.  If fewer than 32 picks have still been awarded at this time, the remaining picks -- known as "supplemental compensatory selections" -- are distributed in the order in which teams would pick in a hypothetical eighth round of the draft.

All compensatory picks are awarded at the ends of rounds 3 through 7.  Placement of compensatory picks, which cannot be traded, is determined by a secret "proprietary" formula which has never been released.  The NFL does say, however, that the formula for determining compensatory free agents takes into account each qualifying player's salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team, with salary being the primary factor.  Not every free agent lost or signed is covered by the formula.

New Orleans 2014 Free Agent Losses/Gains
Last year, the Saints lost three unrestricted free agents:  Malcolm Jenkins, Brian De la Puente, and Charles Brown.  After taking into consideration the two qualifying free agents signed by the team, Jairus Byrd and Erik Lorig, New Orleans appears to have had a net loss of one compensatory free agent.  If either Brian De la Puente ($795,000 APY, 46.1% snaps) or Charles Brown ($795,000 APY, 34.7% snaps) does not qualify, according to the NFL's secret formula, then New Orleans will not get a compensatory pick under any scenario.

What about Sproles, et al?
Darren Sproles was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a 2014 fifth-round draft pick.  As he was never an unrestricted free agent last year, he cannot be a qualifying compensatory free agent.  Also, Restricted Free Agents which the team chooses not to tender become "street free agents," not true Unrestricted Free Agents.  So nobody that the team trades, or chooses not to tender if possible, will help us with determining compensatory picks.

Then How Many Picks do we get?
If both Brown and De la Puente qualify, the best projections from Over the Cap have the Saints right on the cusp of getting a compensatory pick.  This could have New Orleans deciding who becomes Mr. Irrelevant 2015.  More importantly, it would mean that the team currently has ten draft picks this year.

For those stressing over cap space, the Saints would need about $7.53 million to pay for their draft picks, if they keep all ten of them.  However, since only the top 51 contracts count towards the cap, these rookie contracts would only require somewhere between $2.66 million and $3.18 million in cap room.

So when do we find out about that tenth pick?
Compensatory picks are awarded each year at the NFL annual meeting which is held at the end of March; typically, about three or four weeks before the draft.  This year's NFL Meeting begins tomorrow, and will be held in Phoenix from the 22nd through March 25th.