WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins are guaranteed to pick No. 17 overall in this year’s NFL Draft and have nine scheduled picks across seven rounds. They will likely not, however, add any compensatory picks.
Compensatory picks are awarded to teams as reparations for losing top free agents. Only picks for the top 32-38 free agents are awarded, based on a complex formula that takes salary, offseason honors and playing time into consideration. Those picks are weighed against the value of free agents that a team signs in exchange.
All picks fall between rounds, beginning in the third round and ending after the seventh. The order and timing of those picks will not be announced until March.
Under this formula, Josh Norman is likely to yield the Carolina Panthers one of the top compensatory picks, likely third overall, thanks to his $15 million per year average salary and All-Pro 2015 season. This will not cost the Redskins anything, and they gained greater than third-round value by adding Norman.
But the Redskins are unlikely to get any pick reparations for departing free agents. Last offseason, the Redskins lost Perry Riley Jr., Robert Griffin III, Dashon Goldson, Chris Culliver. None of these players signed elsewhere for large enough contracts to be considered for compensatory picks.
This is not an unusual situation for the Redskins, who rarely let valuable players leave in free agency, and frequently spend heavily. But certain teams have made the compensatory pick a valuable part of the team’s draft strategy. The system benefits teams that draft well, because it allows them to find and develop young talent, rather than paying to retain aging and expensive veterans.
The Baltimore Ravens are awarded compensatory picks in almost every draft. The Dallas Cowboys used such a pick last year to draft Dak Prescott after the fourth round. Current Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon was a compensatory pick out of Division III powerhouse Mount Union.
Some of the other top compensatory picks of all time: Giants receiver David Tyree, Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, Steelers receiver Hines Ward, Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, and of course, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.