One of the ways in which the Green Bay Packers have consistently added draft capital under general manager Ted Thompson is through the acquisition of compensatory draft picks. The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams which have a net loss of players in one year’s free agency to receive additional draft picks in rounds 3 through 7 in the following year’s draft.
The league uses a confidential formula to determine exactly how the picks are awarded, basing the calculation on factors like contract value, playing time, and postseason awards. It also cancels players out, as each unrestricted free agent that a team signs cancels out a similar departing player. However, the fine folks at Over The Cap have been extremely accurate over the last several years in predicting which picks will be assigned to which teams.
With the 2016 regular season wrapped up, we can finally start to get a good feel for where these picks will be assigned, and the Packers are currently projected to receive just a single pick. According to OTC, that draft choice would be awarded in the 5th round, and would correspond to the loss of cornerback Casey Hayward to the Chargers last offseason. Hayward signed a three-year deal worth $15.3 million this offseason but led the NFL with seven interceptions.
The Packers had one other potentially-qualifying player who might have earned them another pick: quarterback Scott Tolzien. However, the league only hands out 32 comp picks each year, and Tolzien’s ranking slots him in at the 33rd spot among the qualifying free agents. They do lay out a few potential scenarios in which Tolzien could count for a pick, however, which would involve certain players qualifying (or not qualifying) for the formula.
The Packers’ acquisition of Jared Cook would not count against the compensatory pick calculation, however. Cook was released by the Rams rather than having an expiring contract, and is therefore designated as a “street free agent” instead of an “unrestricted free agent.”
2017 is also the first year in which compensatory picks may be traded. Therefore, it is possible that the Packers will not use these picks, but may end up swapping them in a draft-day trade.
Thompson has had excellent success with his compensatory picks over the years. In 2016, both linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive lineman Dean Lowry were fourth-round compensatory picks. They also chose Sam Barrington in the 7th round in 2013 and Mike Daniels as a 4th-rounder in 2012. Guard Josh Sitton was a 2008 comp pick in the 4th round as well.