By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
To say this NFL offseason has been complicated would be an understatement. At the center of the lack of clarity is the ongoing CBA negotiations, which have held up free agent discussions around the league.
While the CBA can make it tricky for teams to lay out their free agent plans, the NFL isn’t making it any easier on teams to prepare for the NFL Draft either. How so? The league has yet to release this year’s compensatory draft picks, which could throw a wrench into teams setting up their draft boards or planning trades.
Even though teams may have a general idea of what picks they’ll be awarded, the league’s official formula (which isn’t public) generally generates a few surprises per year. For instance, if a player is projected right on the edge of third or fourth round compensation, it could be as big of a difference as the 97th and 138th picks in the draft.
Comp picks became a bigger part of draft planning in 2017, when the league began allowing teams to trade those selections. In the three years since that policy was put in place the picks have been revealed by the league exactly 62 days before the draft each year.
That hasn’t been the case this offseason. As of March 4, 50 days away from the 2020 NFL Draft, the results of the NFL’s tabulations still have not been released. No reason has been given by the league. In fact, they haven’t even acknowledged the delay.
The Patriots should have a stronger focus in the comp picks this year specifically. New England is the only team projected to receive two third-round picks after losing Trent Brown and Trey Flowers last season.
That should leave the Pats with three third-round picks (including their own at 87th overall) but no second rounder (traded for Mohamed Sanu). Given their needs and the way draft boards are setting up, they’ll likely look to trade into the second round using one or more of their multiple thirds.
However, as is usually the case with the Patriots, details are key here. It’s probably not as simple as saying ‘whatever they get, they’ll trade.’ Every pick has a different value, even if it is minute.
How different would their projected trades look if they’re awarded the 100th pick instead of the 98th pick? Does the order of the team slotted around them (projected to be the Giants, Seahawks, Texans, Steelers, and Eagles) impact their decision making?
In the last 10 years, the shortest amount of time between the announcement of comp picks and the first day of the NFL Draft is 31 days (2010, 2012). This year, that would be March 23, well after the free agency window opens. Could that impact the Patriots’ (or other teams’) plans regarding Tom Brady and other key free agents?
For now the comp picks, like the CBA, have the league in a holding patterns. All the 32 teams can do is wait.
UPDATE: Over the Cap’s Nick Korte combed through the new proposed CBA, and found that nothing about this year’s comp picks would be altered if it passes.