File this under “Least Surprising Buc News of the New League Year:” The NFL announced its 2013 compensatory draft picks on Monday, and Tampa Bay was not on the list.
That’s a direct result of last year’s bold free agency attack, particularly the signings of WR Vincent Jackson and G Carl Nicks. Each year, the NFL distributes a total of 32 compensatory picks based on net gains and losses in the previous year’s free agency period. The formula the NFL Management Council uses to determine who gets picks is actually quite complicated – taking into account salary, playing time, postseason honors, Twitter followers and end zone dances, or something like that – but you didn’t need all that data to know the Bucs would be sans comp picks this year.
The compensatory pick process is essentially a zero-sum game, as net free agency gains and losses around the league should even out, so it’s generally right around half the teams that receive them each year. That’s the case in 2013, as exactly 16 teams are on the comp-pick distribution list. Atlanta and Baltimore get the most, with four picks each, but the real prizes went to Houston, Kansas City and Tennessee. Each of those teams got a pick added right after the third round, which is as high as comp picks go. The Falcons and Ravens did get picks after the fourth round, but 25 of the 32 selections added were slotted at the end of the fifth round or later.
This is the second year in a row that the Bucs were shut on “Comp Pick Day,” though again, that’s not a bad thing. Last year, that was the result of the team’s 2011 re-signings of Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood and Quincy Black, as well as the free agency acquisition of Michael Koenen. Tampa Bay got extra seventh-round picks through the compensatory system in both 2010 and 2011; the former was used on Erik Lorig, the latter on tight end Daniel Hardy. The Lorig pick has worked out well, as he converted from defensive end to fullback and spent last season as a starter. Compensatory picks cannot be traded.
Atlanta is actually the only team in the NFC South that got any comp picks, all based on the fact that they lost Kelvin Hayden, Curtis Lofton, James Sanders, Eric Weems in 2012 and added no players that fall under the “compensatory free agent” umbrella. The key free agency departures that led to the Texans, Chiefs and Titans getting such high compensatory picks were Mario Williams, Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan, respectively.
Each year, the NFL lists the full running totals of compensatory picks by team since the system began in 1994 (since the first year of free agency activity was 1993). One supposes that the numbers might give at least a partial picture of the various teams’ approaches to free agency; that is, the teams that have racked up the most comp picks through the years presumably have been less likely to sign expensive free agents. Baltimore leads that group with 37 comp picks over the years (including four this year), followed by Green Bay at 31. Not counting Cleveland and Houston, which haven’t been around for those full 20 years, the teams at the bottom of the list – that is, the teams that have been most likely to sign expensive free agents – are the Jets and Broncos, with only nine comp picks each. The Bucs are smack dab in the middle of the pack, with 18 comp picks in 20 years.
The Bucs may not have received any new picks on Monday, but they did get some clarity. Now that the compensatory picks have been added, the full seven-round draft order is set. The Bucs currently have eight picks in the 2013 draft, and here is where each one falls:
- 1st round – #13
- 2nd round – #43
- 3rd round – #73
- 4th round – #112
- 4th round – #126*
- 5th round – #147
- 6th round – #181
- 6th round – #196**
* Obtained from New England in the Aqib Talib trade.
** Obtained from Philadelphia (originally Denver’s pick) in the Arrelious Benn trade.