Could the Bears Receive a Compensatory Draft Pick?

Danieal Manning is the Bears' best shot at a compensatory pick.

This post has been spawned out of some comments on my Friday post made by Just Dave who was wondering if the Bears could be in line for some compensatory picks to add to the team's existing arsenal of picks. Now, compensatory picks are awarded on based on a formula created by the NFL Management Council and it is somewhat complex. This is typically one of the more complicated matters in the NFL every year and it seems no one, even after reading up on the darn rules, can really figure out just how these picks are awarded. So I will attempt to break it down in a somewhat simple manner, even though I am not entirely sure I understand it all. Then I will figure out if the Bears can expect a pick or not.

In case you don't know, compensatory picks are 32 additional picks awarded by the NFL to teams who lost more significant free agents than they signed. The picks cannot be traded (I want to emphasize this because every year some meatball is on here saying 'package our three 7th round compensatory picks with our 2016 1st rounder and trade for Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald') and they are only given for rounds 3-7.

The formula for compensatory picks is somewhat secret, in that all the explanations I can find online strike me as vague and it almost seems like the NFL assumes that the mere plebians we are couldn't understand such a formula or that they just don't want to bother releasing the whole thing. In any regard, here is how it is explained on Wikipedia:

In addition to the 32 picks in each round, there are a total of 32 picks awarded at the ends of Rounds 3 through 7. These picks, known as "compensatory picks," are awarded to teams that have lost more qualifying free agents than they gained the previous year in free agency. Teams that gain and lose the same number of players but lose higher-valued players than they gain also can be awarded a pick, but only in the seventh round, after the other compensatory picks. Compensatory picks cannot be traded, and the placement of the picks is determined by a proprietary formula based on the player's salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team, with salary being the primary factor. So, for example, a team that lost a linebacker who signed for $2.5 million per year in free agency might get a sixth-round compensatory pick, while a team that lost a wide receiver who signed for $5 million per year might receive a fourth-round pick.

Now this is a pretty good explaination, but it isn't sourced at all so it's hard to know how accurate it is. Now here is an article from NFL.com, about the picks that were award prior to the 2011 draft:

Compensatory free agents are determined 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.

Three clubs this year (Oakland, Seattle and New Orleans) will each receive a compensatory pick even though they did not suffer a net loss of compensatory free agents last year. Under the formula, the compensatory free agents lost by these clubs were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance).

So now that we have a basic explanaition of how the picks are awarded, without knowing the specific formula and points system, I can at least speculate as to what will happen with the Bears this year.

Here is a list of the free agents the Bears lost last year:

Devin Aromashodu to the Vikings

Josh Bullocks to the Raiders

Rashied Davis to the Lions

Olin Kreutz to the Saints

Danieal Manning to the Texans

Brad Maynard to the Texans

Now, here are the guys we signed:

Adam Podlesh to a 5-year deal

Matt Spaeth to a 3-year deal

Chris Spencer to a 2-year deal

Sam Hurd to a 3-year deal

These are the only ones who I believe would be taken into account because all the other moves involve players who were released rather than got away in free agency.

So looking at this, I think it's pretty safe to say that the best we could get is a 7th round pick. We signed four guys and lost six, yes, but of those six only one is really a starter, Manning, as for the others; Kreutz retired about halfway through the season (and didn't really contribute when he was starting), Bullocks didn't make Oakland's final roster, Maynard was cut from Houston and landed with Cleveland after they had a run of injuries to their punters, Davis and Aromashodu contributed to their new teams but weren't full-time starters. Davis made zero starts and was mainly a special teams guy (4 receptions for 63 yards) and Aromashodu started six games.

So our biggest loss was Manning, who started 13 games and he signed a four-year $20 million contract with $9 million guaranteed. This is far and away a bigger contract than any of the signings made by the Bears.

As the NFL.com article points out, there is a chance the Bears get some picks, because they lost more free agents than they signed, however, most of the ones lost were a wash with what we signed, except for Danieal Manning, but even with all that, it's unlikely we'd get a pick higher than a 6th or 7th rounder.

So I suspect that's what we'll see; a 6th or 7th round pick and we should be happy with that. It's not much but it's something.

That being said, we won't even know for another two months, as compensatory picks are annually awarded during the late March owners' meetings about three or four weeks prior to the draft. However, now when the time comes around, hopefully we'll all be a little more informed and can avoid some meatball spewing "Wel we shood get a 2nd round comp picz for Danielle Manning and we can tradezz it for Brandon Marshall loloololz BEARZ DOWN"

Ah, who am I kidding? Those guys will still be here.

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