The National Football League’s salary cap squeeze in 2021 has made spending this offseason a little weird.
Players like former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson entered free agency expecting shorter-term deals, but many well-paid talents like the new member of the Minnesota Vikings still got large dollar amounts by year.
With that, many players remain in free agency — including Cardinals starters like linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and defensive tackle Corey Peters. But the big-money players and many depth options on minimum deals have, for the most part, been scooped up.
That means we have a somewhat decent picture of which teams will receive compensatory picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. As of now, Arizona could have three, according to OverTheCap.com’s latest projections.
Peterson’s signing with the Vikings on a $10 million deal over one year is expected to give Arizona a fifth-round draft pick.
Defensive end Angelo Blackson’s two-year deal worth $5.5 million with the Chicago Bears and tight end Dan Arnold’s two-year deal for $6 million to join the Carolina Panthers will net the Cardinals two seventh-round picks.
The NFL’s formula for compensatory picks, in the most basic terms, works like so: The league puts free agent gains and losses into tiers based on their dollar amounts, and each team’s similarly tiered gains and losses then cancel each other out.
For example, Arizona’s addition of receiver A.J. Green (one year, $8 million) cancels out the departure of outside linebacker Haason Reddick (one year, $8 million).
Kicker Matt Prater (two years, $6.5 million) joining the Cardinals also nixes running back Kenyan Drake (two years, $11 million) leaving for the Oakland Raiders, per OverTheCap.com’s figures.
The top players who are not canceled out are compared NFL-wide to determine what level of draft pick — from the third to the seventh round — will be distributed to their former team. The league’s formula determines a cut-off point where compensation is no longer rewarded.