Will Schneider keep playing the comp game, despite little return?

NFL draftEveryone knows Pete Carroll loves competition. And John Schneider loves COMPetition — working free agency so he ends up with compensatory draft picks the next year.

He has done it in four of the past six years — and he got three extra selections today when 2020 picks were announced. But is it really a game worth playing? Has Schneider found any diamonds in the rough with these extra picks?

Not really. He has hit on just 3 of 13 compensatory picks as Seattle’s GM, and he whiffed on all three third-rounders (Rees Odhiambo, Amara Darboh and Nazair Jones) he had in 2016 and 2017.

His only hits have been Malcolm Smith (Round 7 in 2011), Mark Glowinski (4 in 2015) and Joey Hunt (6 in 2016) — and the team ridiculously waived Glowinski during the 2017 season (he ended up earning a nice extension from Indy after he escaped Tom Cable’s ineffective system).

Some might argue that comp picks are also good trade chips, but Schneider had no comps last year and still managed to flip four selections into 11 (and his trade with Kansas City had nothing to do with that either). So he certainly doesn’t need comp picks for that.

But, he loves them anyway, and will be happy to have three more this year. He hasn’t had any since 2017, because he didn’t lose many stars and had specific positions to fill in free agency (O-line and running back in 2017; tight end, OL and defensive tackle in 2018).

Last year, though, he wanted to get back in the comp game.

At the Combine, he told 710 ESPN’s John Clayton: “You have to be careful with unrestricted free agency because there’s that balance of losing draft picks. … We ended up signing so many unrestricted free agents (in 2018) that we ended up losing draft picks (in 2019).”

In April, after he had lost seven vets and added just two UFAs, he confirmed he was indeed back in the COMPetition: “This year, we’re trying to be a little bit more selective with the cap casualty guys that don’t count toward your compensatory picks.”

That brought Seattle extra picks in the third, fourth and sixth rounds – giving Schneider eight picks this year. We’ll see whether the fourth time is the charm with the third-rounder.

As for this year …

When the league year starts March 18, Seattle will have about 10 UFAs who might qualify in the COMPetition (i.e., sign elsewhere for at least $2.5 million per year).

Their projected comp-pick values if they leave: 3 — Jadeveon Clowney; 4 — Jarran Reed, Germain Ifedi; 5 — George Fant; 6 — Ziggy Ansah, Quinton Jefferson; 7 — Mychal Kendricks, Mike Iupati, Al Woods, Jaron Brown.

If he is smart, Schneider will not worry about the COMPetition this year. He knows he needs two veteran pass rushers and a couple of defensive tackles — whether they are UFAs, trade acquisitions or cuts. But he probably won’t be able to help himself, particularly if he knows Clowney would net Seattle a 3 in 2021.

The third-round cutoff last year was about $13 million per year (Earl Thomas got $13.75 million from Baltimore, netting Seattle a third-rounder). Schneider probably will try to protect the Clowney comp by not signing any UFA for more than $13 million, which probably would rule out Dante Fowler Jr., whose 11.5 sacks likely earned him a raise over the $12 million he made with the Rams last year. It also might explain why he reportedly is exploring a trade for Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue (trades don’t count in the COMPetition).

Schneider also could call Denver to feel out a possible trade for Von Miller ($18 million) or call Jacksonville about Schneider’s longtime crush, Calais Campbell ($15 million). Otherwise, Schneider could look into signing Everson Griffen (if he doesn’t stay in Minnesota), Robert Quinn, Gerald McCoy, Vic Beasley, or Jason Pierre-Paul for $10 million or less. Or maybe trade for Jerry Hughes ($7.4 million). Any two of those guys would help immensely, especially Miller, Campbell, Griffen, Quinn and McCoy.

If Schneider could add an outside/in tandem such as Griffen/Campbell or Ngakoue/McCoy, he could spend somewhat cheaply on the other edge rusher (Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson, et al.) and a run-stopping tackle.

If Reed and Ifedi both sign elsewhere for $8 million to $12 million (as expected), they should qualify as fourth-rounders. Even if Schneider signed two UFAs who canceled both fourths, he still could end up with the Clowney third and maybe a fifth, sixth and/or seventh in 2021.

But that should not be a concern, especially since less than a quarter of his comp picks have helped the Hawks over the years.

This year, he shouldn’t worry about the COMPetition — just the competition.


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