The Green Bay Packers may be losing free agents to other teams, but that plays into one of general manager Ted Thompson’s key strategies for building his team’s roster: more draft picks.
The NFL’s compensatory pick rules give additional picks to teams who lose more unrestricted free agents than they sign in a given year, and add those picks onto the following year’s haul. Therefore, picks earned during 2017 free agency are calculated for the 2018 draft. The formula is relatively simple; although the league ostensibly takes into account playing time and honors like Pro Bowl appearances, the vast majority of the formula consists of examining a player’s average annual compensation on their new contracts.
With that in mind, let’s look at where the Packers stand for potential comp picks after the first few days of the 2017 Free Agency signing period.
Free Agents Lost
- G T.J. Lang: $9.5M/year
- DB Micah Hyde: $5.7M/year
- C JC Tretter: $5.58M/year
- OLB/DE Julius Peppers: $3.5M/year
Free Agents Signed
- TE Martellus Bennett: $6.75M/year
Based on Over The Cap’s projections, the signing of Bennett would cancel out losing Hyde to the Bills, which would leave the Packers with three losses in free agency. As a result, that leaves Lang, Tretter, and Peppers in the compensatory pick calculation.
Based on contract values relative to other signings around the league, the Packers would likely get the following extra picks: a fourth-round compensatory pick for Lang, a fifth-rounder for Tretter, and a choice in round six for Peppers. That would add on to the typical one pick in each round that the team has, as Ted Thompson has not made any moves to trade any of the team’s normal selections.
The Packers have a handful of additional players who could feasibly net the team an additional pick in 2018 (with the maximum any single team can receive being four). Jared Cook in particular is the remaining free agent who would likely receive the largest contract from a new team, although Eddie Lacy and Datone Jones are also slim possibilities.
In 2017, the Packers netted just one compensatory pick, which they received as a result of cornerback Casey Hayward’s signing with the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers.