How Will The Allocation Of Compensatory Picks Affect The Lions In The 2018 Draft?
Every off-season, the NFL awards compensatory draft picks to teams based on the results of free agency from the prior year. This season, 32 compensatory picks were awarded, however, none of them were to the Detroit Lions. Only 15 of the 32 teams in the NFL were rewarded compensatory picks this year, so it is not unusual for the Lions to not receive any.
Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay and Oakland all lead the league with four compensatory picks received. Arizona and Houston got three each. Minnesota was the lone team to be awarded two picks, and Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, New England, New York Giants and Tampa Bay all received one.
The NFL gives teams compensatory picks if they lose key players to big contracts in free agency, while simultaneously not making large free agent additions themselves. League rules banned teams from trading compensatory picks until very recently, but now the NFL has relaxed their policy, so it is possible that the Detroit Lions could still end up with one of these picks if they make a deal with another team.
Compensatory picks range anywhere from starting at the end of the third round, all the way through the end of the seventh round of the draft. Depending on what the NFL feels, they can assign teams compensatory picks from anywhere in that range. The NFL can also award multiple picks to teams if their free agent losses were significant enough.
For example, the Detroit Lions were awarded two compensatory picks in 2016 (a third and sixth rounder) because of the loss of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins. They hadn’t made any splash signings in free agency in the prior year, so that didn’t factor into it at all and the NFL felt that the Lions 2015 free agent losses far outweighed their gains.
Last off-season, the Lions lost guard Larry Warford and tackle Riley Reiff to big contracts, but they also signed tackle Rick Wagner and guard TJ Lang to large deals. The NFL viewed these signings as offsetting and thus chose not to give the Lions any compensatory picks in the draft this year.
The Lions only have six picks in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, so even one or two compensatory picks could have been highly helpful. However, they should still be able to make some key additions this offseason between those six draft picks and their estimated $44.7 million dollars of cap space, good for 10th most in the NFL.