Remember this about Titans free agents.
Right now, Tennessee Titans fans are debating about which of their top free agents deserves to be re-signed this offseason. How will the Titans decide between the big three of Jadeveon Clowney, Jamil Douglas, and Matt Dickerson?
That debate will have to wait for another article because I should probably be talking about the other big three for the Titans which consists of wide receiver Corey Davis, tight end Jonnu Smith, and linebacker Jayon Brown.
I keep seeing people act like these three make similar impacts on the team, and while I disagree, I understand where they are coming from. What I don’t understand is the people that say “Just let Corey Davis and Jayon Brown walk and you will get two 3rd round compensatory picks next year.”
No. You won’t…I think.
Admittedly, I only have a loose grasp on the compensatory pick formula and what I do know comes from the work of Nick Korte who calculates these picks for Over The Cap.
However, something that is obvious is that the first and most important factor in deciding the “value” of a player who leaves in free agency is his average money per year (or APY) relative to his position group.
For example, last year Jack Conklin’s contract APY was $14 million. That deal made him the third highest-paid right tackle in the NFL. That money relative to his position seems to value him as a third round compensatory pick for the Titans.
Get to the point
So, that means that Titans fans need to adjust their thinking according to that new information. Let’s use that $10 million APY as a reference point. If that is the price for all three free agents it would make Corey Davis the 27th highest-paid wide receiver, Jonnu Smith would be the 5th highest-paid tight end, and Jayon Brown would be the 17th highest-paid linebacker.
If I had to guess, I think that means that Jonnu Smith is going to yield a 4th round pick which is backed up by Austin Hooper getting a similar deal last year and yielding a similar value.
Jayon Brown might be able to get back a 4th round pick, but he would be towards the bottom of that “bracket” and his playing time/injuries might factor into the equation. Even if he gets that deal, his missed time could count against him since it is part of the compensatory pick formula and I would bet that when it is all said and done Brown only warrants a 5th round compensatory pick.
Corey Davis is tougher to project, but Robby Anderson did net a 4th round pick on a deal worth $10 million APY. However, Randall Cobb only earned a 5th round pick on a $9 million APY deal and this is where it gets tricky.
If Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Juju Smith-Schuster, and/or Will Fuller get more money than Davis in free agency, how far down will that push him? My guess is that the formula might only give the Titans a 5th round pick for this loss.
What does that all mean?
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The point of all of this is to say that Jonnu Smith is the odd man out in these free agent talks. If the Titans can keep all three, outstanding, but if they can’t then Jonnu Smith will yield the most in terms of a compensatory pick.
Even then we are talking about a pick in the 140-150 range instead of the 100-110 range like you see with 3rd round compensatory picks.
There is always the option of tagging and trading Smith or any of the other free agents if you think that they are worth more than the compensatory pick will give you, but at the end of the day, this is a part of the discussion that doesn’t get talked about enough.
Side note…if the Titans can get someone to give Jadeveon Clowney a $13 million deal like they gave him, then they could be looking at a 4th round pick. That would ease the sting of him giving the Titans virtually nothing on the field.