A day ago we discussed how the NFL’s compensatory draft pick program works, and how devoted general manager Ted Thompson is to procuring such picks. Today we’ll look at just how well the Green Bay Packers have done with Ted’s fondest strategy.
First though, it needs to be pointed out that this NFL program, begun in 1994, is an effort to balance things out when a team loses a bunch of its players to other teams. It’s all about maintaining parity. In order to get good compensatory picks, a team has to lose good players during the previous free agency period.
Thompson is in the midst of his 13th free agent signing period. In 2005, inheriting the work of Mike Sherman from 2004, Ted had no compensatory draft picks. In 2006, he got an extra fifth and seventh round pick. In 2007, he got just one seventh round pick. In 2008, he got an extra fourth round pick.
In 2009 he got a fifth and sixth round compensatory pick. He got no compensatory picks in 2010. In 2011 he got two extra sixth rounders, and one extra seventh round pick. In 2012, he got two fourth and two seventh rounders.
In 2013, he got one fifth round pick. In 2014, third and fifth round picks. In 2015, two sixth round picks; and in 2016, two fourth round picks.
Given that third and fourth round picks are much more valuable than lower-round picks, Ted’s best years in mining the compensatory gold vein were in 2012 and 2016, with two fourth rounders each year. The only time Thompson has netted a third-round compensatory pick was in 2014 – it was due to losing wide receiver Greg Jennings in free agency.
In 2016, those two fourth round picks came courtesy of the loss of cornerbacks’ Tramon Williams and Davon House.
In 2017, the Packers will get a fifth round compensatory pick due to the loss of Casey Hayward. If you’ll recall, the primary factor in determining the degree of the loss is salary and Hayward only got $5.1 million per year from the Chargers. Had postseason honors not been a secondary factor, Hayward’s loss might have resulted in a third round choice, as he received All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
Some of the players who Thompson has obtained with his compensatory drafts picks are: Josh Sitton (2008), Davon House (2011), Mike Daniels (2012), Richard Rodgers (2014), and Blake Martinez (2016) – all were fourth round choices except Rodgers, a third-rounder. Rounds five through seven compensatory picks have proved worthless during Thompson’s reign.
A Bumper Crop in 2018
While free agent dealings have not yet concluded, an outfit named Over the Cap has projected the Packers will receive four compensatory picks next year, including a third-round selection.
The Packers, to date, have seven departed free agents who qualify for the program (though teams are only allowed to use up to four in a single season). They have only signed one qualifying unrestricted free agent, Martellus Bennett.
Over the Cap thinks the T.J. Lang signing, at $9.5 million per season with the Lions, will likely net the Packers a third rounder.
Micah Hyde’s five-year, $30 million deal with the Buffalo Bills will essentially cancel out the Martellus Bennett three-year, $21 million deal.
Over the Cap predicts the Packers might receive a fifth round pick for the loss of J.C. Tretter, a sixth round pick for Jared Cook, and another sixth round pick for Eddie Lacy.
Though Datone Jones and Julius Peppers also could fit into the sixth-round slot, they would not count due to the league’s four-compensatory-pick limit for any one team.
This means that Thompson has the rare opportunity to go after an additional one or two moderately-priced unrestricted free agents without it negatively affecting his sacred compensatory draft pick strategy.
Go for it Ted – you’ll never get another opportunity like this one.