After first wave of free agency, Bills in plus territory on comp-pick scorecard


Staff member

Just like last March, the Buffalo Bills’ quest for reinforcements in free agency is being done with one eye on the 2025 NFL draft.
The Bills got one extra compensatory draft pick this year thanks to the fact they lost more free agents than they gained a year ago.

The Bills currently appear to stand plus-4 on the compensatory picks scorecard for next year. That doesn’t mean they necessarily will get four extra picks, but they should get at least two, presuming they don’t make another expensive signing in free agency over the next six weeks.

Buffalo lost receiver Gabe Davis to Jacksonville for a deal that averages $13 million a year. That’s likely to net the Bills a fourth-round pick in 2025.

The Bills lost defensive end Leonard Floyd to San Francisco on a deal that averages $10 million a year. That should net a fifth-rounder.

Buffalo currently has 11 picks in this year’s draft, which opens April 28. Bills general manager Brandon Beane likes extra picks.

“That’s exciting,” Beane said after last year’s draft. “I love the picks. And it’ll buffer when I do things like when I trade up for next year.”

Beane was laughing when he said that, so don’t assume the Bills are moving up from their No. 28 spot in the first round.

When a team picks at the end of the first round year after year – this will be the fifth straight year the Buffalo has stood 22nd or worse in the first round – adding picks becomes a higher priority.

The Bills signed one high-profile free agent in wide receiver Curtis Samuel from the Washington Commanders. His deal averages $8 million a year. It’s not expensive by free-agency standards. It’s currently 43rd on an average-per-year basis among free agents signed this month, according to the sports financial site Spotrac.

From a compensatory pick standpoint, it’s canceled out by the loss of cornerback Dane Jackson to Carolina for $4.25 million a year, according to Over The Cap analyst Nick Korte. They’re both seventh round-level compensatory signings.

Any deal worth roughly $3 million or more factors into the NFL’s complex compensatory pick formula. The NFL doesn’t release the exact total until after the season, after factoring in all the playing time totals and honors.

The Bills also have lost defensive tackle Tim Settle to Houston (at $3 million) and linebacker Tyrel Dodson to Seattle at a reported ($4.2 million). Those each would count as seventh-round compensatory picks.

The NFL puts a limit on the total number of compensatory picks awarded each year at 32. Time will tell if either of those wind up qualifying to be granted to the Bills. Buffalo, of course, could still sign a player who equals the deals for Dodson or Settle.

The Bills signed linebacker Nick Morrow to a deal with a base value of $1.5 million, too low for the formula. They signed receiver Mack Hollins to a deal with a base salary of $1.5 million and a reported one-year value of $2.6 million. It appears to not be enough to qualify for the formula. Ditto for prospective starting safety Mike Edwards, signed this week from Kansas City. He has a one-year deal worth $2.8 million, according to Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan.

Any player signed who had been released by another team doesn’t count toward the formula. Any player re-signed to the roster doesn’t count. So the fact the Bills brought back DaQuan Jones, A.J. Epenesa, Taylor Rapp, David Edwards, Ty Johnson and others doesn’t hurt them in comp-pick accounting.

The Bills were strategic in signing veterans last year after the first wave of free agency, keeping the deals under the comp pick threshold.

After May 2, veterans from other teams who are signed don’t count against the formula, even if their deals are higher than the $2.5 million range. The rationale is if they lingered that long on the free-agent market, they shouldn’t count toward against the signing team.

The Bills landed one compensatory pick in the 2024 NFL Draft – a fourth-rounder, No. 133 overall — as a result of last year’s free-agent shopping season. The Bills had a net loss of free agents as a result of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds signing with Chicago.

Why wasn’t it a third-rounder? The NFL isn’t completely transparent with the public on the accounting.

The formula that takes into account a player’s average salary per year, his snap count for the upcoming season and postseason awards. So playing time impacts the value in the formula that is placed on each player.

A club gets a third-round compensatory pick for players whose value under the formula ranks among the top 5% of all players in the league (roughly the top 70, according to Over The Cap’s Korte). A club gets a fourth-rounder for players whose value for the following year winds up ranking between the top 5% and 10% of all players in the league. A fifth-rounder goes for the top 15%, a sixth for the top 25% and a seventh for the top 35%.

Apparently, Edmunds ranked just outside the top 5% under the formula, hence he brought a fourth-round pick.