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As Free Agency Slows, Three 2022 Comp Picks Show

Cardinals project to get extra choices in next year's draft

Steve Keim sees the Cardinals turning their attention to the draft at this point, more or less putting any additional free agent signings on the backburner for now. That makes sense because the Cards have started their final pre-draft meetings, and that's where the attention lies. But there is also a secondary reason to hold off for the time being: compensatory draft picks.

As it stands -- and as I will go through in a moment -- the Cards are projected to have three comp picks in the 2022 draft: One in the fifth round, and two in the seventh. It always helps to have extra draft capital. But the time is coming soon sometime in the week or two after the draft is over when any free agent signing (or any lost free agent, for that matter) will no longer count in the comp pick formula. With the league on to the third or fourth wave of free agents at this point, it behooves teams to wait.

That means if the Cards are going to sign another cornerback, or tight end, or running back -- and certainly one who is making anything more than the minimum -- it's probably going to come next month.

The comp pick formula is not widely known, but there are analysts who have studied it enough over the years to make strong educated guesses. It starts with a basic premise that comp picks go to the teams that lose more qualifying free agents than they sign. The dollar amount of contracts figure in, as does playing time during the season and postseason honors can also make a difference.

Now, back to the 2022 comp picks. According to, which does a great job analyzing and figuring out the likely equations, the Cards are in line to pick up a fifth-round comp pick for losing cornerback Patrick Peterson, and seventh-round picks for losing tight end Dan Arnold and defensive lineman Angelo Blackson.

The losses of linebacker Haason Reddick and running back Kenyan Drake figured as sixth-round picks, but they are canceled out by the additions of wide receiver A.J. Green and kicker Matt Prater.

(Arguably the three most important offseason additions don't factor in to comp pick equations. Center Rodney Hudson arrived in trade, and both defensive lineman J.J. Watt and cornerback Malcolm Butler were released and did not enter into free agency with expiring contracts.)

One notable impact for the Cards -- It used to be that Peterson would have probably qualified as earning the Cards a third-round pick. But the rule changed a few years ago so that a departing free agent who has at least 10 accrued seasons (Peterson has exactly 10) can qualify for no higher than a fifth-round selection.

A.J. Green, then of the Bengals, makes a catch over Patrick Peterson, then of the Cardinals, in 2015.
A.J. Green, then of the Bengals, makes a catch over Patrick Peterson, then of the Cardinals, in 2015.