The window for NFL teams to receive compensatory picks for free agent departures closed on Tuesday. It may lead to some of the bigger names still on the market to finally find their NFL homes for next season.
The league awards compensatory picks in the draft for teams that lost more players to free agency than they gained, but only for the first two months of the free agency period. Now that it’s expired, it didn’t take long for Michael Floyd to find a new team. The wide receiver signed with the Vikings on Wednesday. Things may not be as simple for his teammate, LeGarrette Blount.
The Patriots waited until the very last day possible to extend Blount a contract, offering him a one-year, $1.1 million deal Tuesday. While that may seem like an odd fit given the team’s cache of tailbacks — Blount would be the ninth running back on the roster — a look at the league’s mechanics shows why New England offered a low-risk contract to the player who led the league in rushing touchdowns last season.
Any team waiting to sign Blount now has to exceed New England’s offer. The franchise will then have the opportunity to match the new contract’s terms or let their player leave and receive a compensatory pick in return. In short, the Pats took the leverage Blount’s prolonged stint on the free agent market left them and are now trying to spin that into an extra pick in he 2018 NFL Draft.
The Patriots are in line to receive two compensatory picks next season, according to Over The Cap, for the departures of Martellus Bennett and Jabaal Sheard. New England won’t see any additional benefit now that Floyd signed. Likewise, if the Patriots sign a player who’s still on the market, they won’t lose either of the picks they’re slated to get.
This should appeal to teams interested in landing remaining free agents because it won’t detract from any compensatory picks those teams are already set to receive.
There are several players still available in free agency, like tackle Ryan Clady and center Nick Mangold, who may be more likely to get signed now that teams know it wouldn’t change next year’s compensatory picks. Clady has some injury concerns, and Mangold’s age may be a deterrent, but they’re both stalwart veterans who could help teams with offensive line concerns.
On defense, the top player remaining on our list is linebacker Gerald Hodges. Hodges had three sacks, two interceptions, and 83 total tackles last year for the 49ers, and it’s a bit of a surprise he’s still available. Perhaps the close of the compensatory pick window is what teams were waiting on with Hodges.
It’s a good time for teams to snag these remaining free agents, because it’s still early in the offseason program. Now that compensatory picks aren’t part of the equation, if they do sign with new teams, players will have plenty of time to acclimate before training camp and the preseason begin.