Why the NY Jets were awarded Mr. Irrelevant and two other comp picks

How did the Jets get their comp picks?
Nathan Shepherd
Nathan Shepherd / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

The NFL officially announced a total of 34 compensatory picks that were awarded to teams for the 2024 NFL Draft on Friday, and the NY Jets were the recipient of a whopping three new draft selections.

Only three teams were given more compensatory picks in this year's draft, and given that the Jets have only received 17 total comp picks since the formula was introduced in 1994 (second-fewest in the NFL), their three picks this year are pretty notable.

The Jets received one compensatory sixth-round pick (218th overall) and two compensatory seventh-round selections (256th and 257th overall). Those seventh-round picks just so happen to be the final two picks in the entire 2024 draft.

But how did this happen? Why did the NFL award the Jets three compensatory picks? How does Mr. Irrelevant tie into this?

How do NFL comp picks work?

The NFL uses a complex formula to determine compensatory draft picks. In short, the formula takes into account players a team loses in free agency the previous season and players the team signs to determine which teams are eligible to receive draft compensation.

If a team spends more than they lose, they will not be awarded compensatory draft picks. Only 14 of the NFL's 32 teams will receive compensatory picks in this year's draft.

The larger the contract signed, the more significant the draft compensation, and that applies to both players signed and lost. For example, if the Jets were to lose Bryce Huff in free agency this offseason, the expectation is that his contract would equate to a third-round comp pick.

However, if the Jets were to then sign another free agent at a similar value, that signing could cancel out the projected Huff comp pick. It's a balancing act — one that teams have begun to value in recent years.

How did the NY Jets get three comp picks?

The Jets lost five compensatory free agents (essentially players who qualify for the comp pick formula) last offseason and only signed two, which is where the three comp picks come from.

The Allen Lazard signing canceled out a projected fifth-round pick the Jets would have received for losing Sheldon Rankins. The Mecole Hardman signing canceled out a seventh-round pick the Jets could have gotten for losing Nate Herbig.

The sixth-round pick comes courtesy of Nathan Shepherd, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the New Orleans Saints last offseason. Most projected had this pick as a seventh-round selection, so the Jets actually got a little lucky here.

The final two picks in the draft are a result of the Jets losing Mike White and Dan Feeney in free agency. Yes, this means that Feeney is the reason the Jets have the Mr. Irrelevant pick in this year's draft.

The Jets narrowly edged out the Jacksonville Jaguars for the final pick in the draft, as Feeney barely edged out former Jaguars tight end Chris Manhertz in the comp pick formula. Not every compensatory free agent nets a comp pick.

Have the NY Jets ever had Mr. Irrelevant?

The Jets have had the Mr. Irrelevant selection in a draft once before in their history. With the 442nd selection in the 17th round of the 1969 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Duke defensive tackle Fred Zirkle.

Zirkle would never play a down in the NFL, instead opting for a career in business. He'd go on to co-found technology company KeyTronic alongside his father and remains a prominent figure in the business world to this day.

Of course, the most notable Mr. Irrelevant draft pick came just two years ago, when the San Francisco 49ers used the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy. Less than two years later, Purdy would help lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance.