49ers lead with seven offsetting draft picks

Nick WagenerESPN staff writerRead for 3 minutes

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Before the NFL made their annual announcement of offsetting picks for the 2023 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers would only have four selections.

After the league unveiled those 37 extra picks on Thursday afternoon, the Niners now have a whopping 11. San Francisco’s seven offsetting picks include three extra picks in the third round (Nos. 99, 101 and 102) as part of the initiative from the competition for organizations developing minorities candidates who become head coaches or general managers on other teams.

Those choices came after the departures of head coaches Robert Saleh (New York Jets), Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins), and DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans), as well as general managers Martin Mayhew (Washington Commanders) and Ran Carthon (Tennessee Titans) in recent years.

The Cleveland Browns (No. 98) and Kansas City Chiefs (No. 100) also received offsetting picks in the third round for the departures of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Minnesota Vikings general manager) and Ryan Poles (Chicago Bears general manager) respectively.

Sixteen teams were given offsetting picks on Thursday, with the Niners leading the way. The NFL uses a formula based on salary, playing time, and post-season awards to award compensatory picks to any team that loses “more or better compensatory free agents than in the previous year.”

The Niners and Los Angeles Rams took the maximum four additional picks allowed under the compensating free agent formula. It is the second year in a row that the Rams and Niners have made the most offsetting picks.

In the case of San Francisco, it added cornerback Charvarius Ward in 2022 free agency, but lost to defensive linemen DJ Jones and Arden Key, guard Laken Tomlinson, cornerback K’Waun Williams and running back Raheem Mostert for a net of four comp picks.

Those picks come in the fifth round (No. 173 overall), sixth round (No. 216), and seventh round (Nos. 253 and 255). Because the 49ers have signed key contracts to many of their star players, they have been unable to re-sign some of their own key free agents and have become less and less involved in signing outside free agents.

That’s why the compensation formula has become more of a focus, according to CEO John Lynch.

“You have to have the patience and the vision to run some of these guys, get some comp picks to kind of play that game,” Lynch said at the NFL scouting group. “[It] it took us a while to figure that out, but I think we’ve tried to understand that you can’t just go full throttle. And you get some rewards if you have a little more discipline. It’s never easy, but it’s necessary.”

The Rams have long endorsed that same approach and once again top the list of compensatory picks obtained. They added three picks in the fifth round (Nos. 167, 171, and 177) and one in the seventh round (No. 251) after including edge rusher Von Miller, offensive lineman Austin Corbett, and defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day lost.

The Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys trailed the 49ers and Rams with three offsetting picks each. Arizona was awarded the highest selection, a third round pick at No. 96 overall, plus a fifth round pick (No. 168) and a sixth round pick (No. 213). The Cardinals lost running back Chase Edmonds, edge rusher Chandler Jones and receiver Christian Kirk in 2022 free agency.

Like the 49ers, Chiefs, Browns and Cardinals, the Washington Commanders also received a third round pick (No. 97) after losing guard Brandon Scherff to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Commanders, Green Bay Packers, Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, New England Patriots, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each got two comp picks, while the Vikings and New Orleans Saints got one each.

The Bears and Texans were given additional picks at the end of the draft, with Houston now holding the No. 259 selection, making the Mr. No. 259 pick. Irrelevant this year will be.

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