DECEMBER 2, 12:42pm: The NFL has voted to allow trades of compensatory draft picks, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. However, the new rules will apply for picks in 2017 and beyond, rather than 2016. That avoids giving a competitive advantage to the teams that deliberately attempted to land comp picks for ’16 during last year’s free agent period.
NOVEMBER 19, 11:35am: Beginning in 2016, the NFL is expected to start allowing teams to trade compensatory draft picks for the first time, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). These selections, which begin at the end of the third round, have traditionally not been movable.
[Related: Click here for the full list of the 2016 draft picks that have already been traded.]
Compensatory draft picks are rewarded to teams that had the most significant losses in free agency the previous year, with a formula determining how the 32 available selections are divvied up. Typically, teams like the Ravens have taken advantage of the system by allowing players to walk in free agency and collecting multiple compensatory picks, often using those picks to draft inexpensive potential replacements.
Now, it appears teams like Baltimore will be able to use those picks in trades going forward. Because there are no compensatory picks until the draft begins approaching the 100th overall pick, these selections may not be centerpieces of major deals, but being able to move them will give teams extra flexibility when making moves. As I noted when I took a closer look at all the trades made in the NFL in 2015, 64 of the 69 deals completed this year included at least one draft pick.
According to projections by Over the Cap, the Browns, 49ers, Cowboys, and Patriots are all in line to potentially land four compensatory picks for 2016, the maximum allowed for a single team. The Ravens, Broncos, Seahawks, Packers, and Lions are also projected to land multiple picks, though that’s not set in stone yet.
As Brian McIntyre notes (via Twitter), there’s a case to be made that any changes to the compensatory picks should be postponed until the 2017 draft, since changes for 2016 favor teams that attempted to stockpile those selections for the coming year. However, for now, it seems the league is ready to institute those changes sooner rather than later.