Later this month the NFL will announce the teams that will receive compensatory draft picks at the NFL owners meetings, scheduled for March 17-20. Every year there are a total of 32 picks awarded to these teams at the end of rounds 3-7. Most of us are aware of the rules surrounding the compensatory picks. But for those that don't know the ins and outs of the process, compensatory picks are awarded to a team losing more free agents than it acquires in the previous year. Therefore, this year, compensatory picks will be determined by 2012's Free Agency.
It is also possible for a team to receive more than one compensatory pick. Last year, Green Bay received as many as four picks, with two of those coming in the fourth round. But remember, a team cannot trade a compensatory pick.
These compensatory picks are determined by a formula based on playing time, wages and postseason honors. However, what is also interesting is that some teams may receive a compensatory pick, even though they did not suffer a net loss of free agents the previous year. Last year Atlanta, San Diego and Buffalo benefitted from this. Although this may seem unfair, the reasoning behind this was because the free agents lost by these teams were ranked higher than the ones they signed, based upon salary and performance. So there are a few nuances to the general rule.
But how does all of this affect the Dolphins?
Last year the main unrestricted free agents that the Dolphins lost were Kendal Langford, to the St. Louis Rams in a deal worth up to $24 million over four years, and Chad Henne, to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the meantime, the Dolphins were relatively quiet in Free Agency. The only major signing was cornerback Richard Marshall from the Arizona Cardinals, in a deal worth $16million over thee years.
Based upon this, Jeff Ireland should expect to receive a compensatory pick for last year's dealings. I don't expect the Dolphins to receive as much as a 3rd round pick. Instead, my guess at the moment would be a 5th round pick, with a 4th round pick at the most.
This is good news for the Dolphins. Imagine for a second the Dolphins manage to acquire an extra 4th round pick. Jeff Ireland will have a 1st, two 2nd's, two 3rd's , two 4th's, a 5th, and two 7th round picks. That leaves ten picks for the team to play with. In such a deep draft, this will provide Ireland with added flexibility to wheel and deal.
That leaves me with a few questions for all of you. Say, hypothetically, the Dolphins gain a 4th or 5th round pick, which area of the team would you like Ireland to target with that extra draft pick? Which players do you think will be in play? And, do you think this will enable Jeff Ireland to use other picks to trade up, safe in the knowledge that he still has a compensatory pick?