Few teams have been busier this offseason than the Rams.
But after this week’s deal for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, General Manager Les Snead’s left to admit he might be done for a bit, and he’s following the lead of a few teams looking to protect future assets.
“I can honestly say we can’t do much more now,” Snead said, via Peter King of SI.com.
Snead admitted that he’s unlikely to add even the cheapest free agents at this point, because he doesn’t want to risk 2019 compensatory picks.
While the exact formula isn’t known, comp picks are doled out based on the net loss of unrestricted free agents. Players who were released by their previous team or untendered restricted and exclusive rights free agents don’t count toward the formula.
The winners are the teams who lose top unrestricted free agents. So the Rams (Sammy Watkins, Trumaine Johnson), Patriots (Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler), Panthers (Andrew Norwell), and Washington (Kirk Cousins) appear to be the teams ready to cash in on third-rounders next year.
And for that reason, teams are slow-playing it until after the draft, when the rules change. If an unrestricted free agent doesn’t receive a tender from his prior team by May 8, he can then sign with a new team without affecting the comp pick formula.
That’s part of the reason the Patriots haven’t spent much in free agency (such that they ever do), and the Panthers filled their veteran safety need by signing Da'Norris Searcy (who was cut by the Titans) as opposed to one of a large group of qualified unrestricted free agents at that position.
Snead needs to stockpile all the picks he can, since he doesn’t have a first- or second-rounder this year. With so much high-end talent on his roster, he’s going to need to balance the books with cheap rookies, and the prospect of free draft picks in 2019 is enough to dissuade him from signing more help right now.