The NFL released it’s list of compensatory picks that it awards to respective teams around the league on Friday afternoon. Unsurprisingly the Bears were given none. It’s the 10th straight the Bears will enter the NFL Draft without any compensatory selections: A formula determined by the number and quality of free agents an organization loses in a given off-season. Given that the Bears had an aggressive 2018 acquisition period that saw them sign Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, and Cody Parkey among others, this was a foregone conclusion long ago. They gained most than they lost last year in team assets which sealed this headline in stone.
The Bears could stand to improve in this regard. Since 1994, Chicago has been given just 17 compensatory draft picks: a paltry 27th in the NFL. Compensatory picks are typically an indication of an organization with a strong culture, tough-minded developmental philosophy, and one that drafts well. When you draft well, you can not only afford to let veterans walk, but you actually have quality veterans to let go in the first place. The Bears, for most of the past quarter century, have obviously and regularly not done so well in the draft. They’ve routinely left themselves limited moving parts to work with once this stage of the draft process begins.
Uh, thanks Dave Wannsteddt, Mark Hatley, Jerry Angelo, Phil Emery, and to an extent ... Ryan Pace.
By contrast, teams like the Patriots (given four compensatory picks this year) are routinely turning this easy draft asset route into a nice talent and trade bait pipeline. At this point, New England is more of an exceptional unicorn in team building and roster construction given how successful they are in comparison to everyone else. The Patriots are a preeminent example of a franchise that almost always receives extra draft capital (two third-rounders this year!) to play around with. There’s something to be said about not only developing quality contributors, but knowing when to cut bait on their future on your roster. A Bill Belichick trademark if there ever was one. Attempting to follow his and their example along these lines is never a bad idea.
Fortunately for the Bears’ sake, it does look like they’re beginning to draft better and sign more impactful free agents under general manager Ryan Pace. That’s both in terms of impactful younger players at the top to build their core around such as Roquan Smith and James Daniels, and veterans that could be on the way out such as Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan. This paints the picture of an organization that should soon see a woeful drought end with likely at least one of Amos or Callahan (if one of them doesn’t return) netting Chicago a compensatory pick next off-season.
It’s a slow grind to building a consistent winner. After building a short-term Super Bowl contender, Pace’s next challenge is to help keep this ride going. One of the simple ways he’ll be able to do it is by eventually swinging the compensatory pick process back in the Bears’ favor.
Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network (subscribe here!), the managing editor of Windy City Gridiron, and writes for many fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.