Breaking Down Biggest Winners from the NFL's Compensatory Pick Announcement
On Monday, the NFL awarded 32 compensatory draft picks to 13 teams, the league's equivalent of found money.
The picks, awarded to teams who have a net loss in free agency the preceding year, run the gamut from the back end of the third round to the "Mr. Irrelevant" pick, which this year belongs to the Houston Texans at No. 256.
The picks are determined, according to the league's press release, by "a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula."
Well, OK then. Now that that's settled (sort of), let's take a look at the teams who brought home the best hauls.
5. San Francisco 49ers
Pick(s) received (round): 100 (3)
Players lost to free agency: WR Ted Ginn, S Dashon Goldson, DE Ricky Jean Francois, DT Isaac Sopoaga, TE Delanie Walker
For the San Francisco 49ers, it's quality over quantity where their compensatory picks are concerned.
The 49ers received only a single pick, but it was a relatively valuable one, coming at the end of the draft's second day.
Add in the fact that none of last year's losses (save for Goldson) were key contributors, and that players such as defensive end Cornellius Carradine and running back Marcus Lattimore should be ready to contribute this year after sitting out their rookie seasons, and the 49ers are in excellent shape to reload for another deep playoff run in 2014.
4. New York Jets
Picks received (round): 137 (4), 209 (6), 210 (6), 213 (6)
Players lost to free agency: S Yeremiah Bell, DE Mike DeVito, RB Shonn Greene, TE Dustin Keller, S LaRon Landry, OG Matt Slauson
If the 49ers supplemental-draft haul is about quality, then for the New York Jets, it's all about the numbers.
The Jets may not have gotten a third-rounder like the Niners, but last year's free-agent defections netted New York four extra picks in this year's draft, which tied for the most awarded.
Combine that with the fact that none of last year's losses were catastrophic, and it's a good day for Gang Green.
The Jets can now use these late picks to add cheap depth, take a flier on an upside pick or use them as chips in the late-round wheeling-and-dealing that dots the draft every year.
3. Green Bay Packers
Picks received (round): 98 (3), 176 (5)
Players lost to free agency: WR Greg Jennings, OLB Erik Walden
The Green Bay Packers should send the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings a thank-you note.
Thanks to those teams overpaying for Walden and Jennings last year in free agency, the Packers received the second-earliest draft-pick award this season.
Never mind that the Packers missed both players not even a little bit last year.
According to Rob Rang's NFL draft big board at CBS Sports, that 98th overall pick could net the Packers the likes of Connecticut linebacker Yawin Smallwood or Florida cornerback Louchiez Purifoy.
Both would be welcome additions to a Green Bay defense that ranked 25th in the NFL in 2013.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
Picks received (round): 97 (3), 173 (5), 215 (6)
Players lost to free agency: CB Keenan Lewis, RB Rashard Mendenhall, S Ryan Mundy, WR Mike Wallace
Thanks in no small part to the monster contract the Miami Dolphins handed wide receiver Mike Wallace, the Pittsburgh Steelers got the first of this year's compensatory picks.
The NFL wasn't done there, awarding the Steelers picks in the fifth and sixth rounds as well.
Not only did the Steelers pick up three extra picks (including the most valuable pick of the bunch), but much like most of the teams in this article, the picks are all the sweeter given that (with the possible exception of Lewis) none of the losses suffered last year were especially significant.
Picks received (round): 99 (3), 134 (4), 138 (4), 175 (5)
Players lost to free agency: ILB Dannell Ellerbe, OLB Paul Kruger, S Ed Reed, CB Cary Williams
The good news is, the Baltimore Ravens received the biggest haul in compensatory picks this year, with one pick in the top 100 and three extra picks in the first five rounds of May's draft.
Of course, the reason that the Ravens got those picks is that they were hit as hard as any team in the league by free agency a season ago.
Still, all in all, things may well have worked out for the best. Yes, the Ravens missed the playoffs last year, but it wasn't really due to any of these departures, especially when you consider the Ravens found suitable replacements for Ellerbe and Kruger in Daryl Smith and Elvis Dumervil.
Throw in the four additional picks the Ravens gained to help them try to get back to the postseason in 2014, and there wasn't a bigger winner from this year's compensatory-draft-pick announcement.