The big first day news saw the San Francisco 49ers sign safety Antoine Bethea and lose Donte Whitner. The Whitner news was one of the first pieces of free agency news, and as soon as it hit, the first question was what kind of compensation picks the 49ers might get with his departure.
It's not an overly complicated situation yet, but I felt it was worth clarifying things quickly for those not quite sure. The NFL provides compensation picks based on free agency losses, but it is not a simple formula of, "We lost this guy, so we get pick X." Rather, the formula is based on the total combination of players gained and lost. More importantly, it depends on the types of losses. The compensation formula is impacted by a variety of factors:
1. Lost players that are cut or not tendered as RFAs and ERFAs do not qualify.
2. Lost players that were picked up during the season the year before do not qualify.
3. Signed players that are released before midseason do not qualify.
4. Players earning low minimum salaries do not qualify.
5. Each player signed cancels out one player lost.
6. The round of the pick awarded is primarily determined by the annual value of the contract signed. Signed players cancel out lost players with equal contracts, then lower contracts, before canceling out higher contracts.
Donte Whitner signed a 4-year, $28 million deal, so there is certainly some value there. However, the 49ers signed Antoine Bethea to what is being described as a 4-year, $23 million deal. Those are the only gains and losses thus far. The 49ers remaining unrestricted free agents include:
As I understand it, if the 49ers made no more outside additions, and lost no more of their own free agents, the Whitner and Bethea moves would net out, meaning no compensation picks. Jimmy (the guy who wrote the above section) confirmed that on Twitter.
Anthony Dixon has visited with the Tennessee Titans, and is likely to end up elsewhere. We haven't heard a single thing about Tarell Brown, who is the team's most notable remaining free agent. If one or more of them signs elsewhere, that would seem to provide the opportunity for 2015 comp picks. We'll wait and see what happens. For now, here are the 49ers 2015 draft picks:
1. First round: own
2. Second round: own
3. Third round: own
4. Fourth round: own
5. Fifth round: own
6. Sixth round: own
7. Seventh round: Colts (Cam Johnson trade)
8. Seventh round: own (if Jonathan Martin makes 2014 opening roster, goes to Dolphins)