When Jimmy Johnson took over the Cowboys, he developed a draft trade chart that revolutionized the way draft-day trades worked in the NFL. Johnson had such success with trades involving draft picks that other teams quickly copied the Cowboys’ chart, and soon every team was using it.
But that was a long time ago, before the salary cap and long before the rookie wage scale in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The old chart doesn’t really fit in a league where teams have a finite amount of cap space and have to consider how each rookie’s contract will fit under that cap. As a result, teams have developed a new trade chart.
Seahawks General Manager John Schneider said his team has a new chart, updated this year because this is the first year when compensatory picks can be traded. Schneider also indicated that the Seahawks know other teams around the league are valuing picks the same way.
“It’s based off of that, but now being able to trade compensatory picks, [Seahawks V.P. of Football Administration] Matt Thomas and a bunch of guys got together from different teams and put a new chart together so we’re following that now but it’s based off the same principle. It’s a scale,” Schneider said.
Teams don’t make their charts public, but Rich Hill of PatsPulpit.com tracked every pick-for-pick trade that has been made in the NFL since the adoption of the new rookie wage scale in 2012 and used those trades to put together a new chart that shows how teams value picks under the new system. The Seahawks made three trades during this year’s draft, and those trades closely aligned with Hill’s chart, suggesting that chart closely matches the new chart the Seahawks and other teams are using.
Trades don’t always perfectly align with the chart because teams are sometimes willing to overpay to move up for a player they love. But the new chart is usually a good indication of what teams can expect to get in a trade of picks. It’s Johnson’s innovation from three decades ago, updated for today’s NFL.