After not receiving any compensatory picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions could be set up to receive one or more in the 2018 NFL Draft.
It may sound strange to start looking ahead to the 2018 NFL Draft before the 2017 NFL Draft has even taken place but that’s what should happen as the NFL’s free agent negotiating window opens today ahead of unrestricted free agency.
Free agent movement this offseason will determine compensatory picks for the 2018 NFL Draft. The actual formula the NFL uses is not made public, but the general gist is that teams that lose more and/or better free agents than they sign can expect to receive a compensatory pick the following year.
The Detroit Lions did not receive any compensatory picks in the 2017 NFL Draft because they had a net-gain in last season’s free agency. Isa Abdul-Quddus was the only qualifying free agent the Lions lost, while they added Marvin Jones, Johnson Bademosi, Rafael Bush, Tavon Wilson and Wallace Gilberry. Players available as free agents because they were cut by their previous team do not count for or against compensatory pick consideration – only players who had their contracts expire count.
"The Lions have the entire right side of their offensive line (Riley Reiff, Larry Warford) and the entire left side of their defensive line (Tyrunn Walker, Devin Taylor) set to become CFAs. That should set a foundation for a basis of 2018 comp picks if they don’t re-sign all of those players. Having 20 total pending CFAs could help in seeing more peripheral names pad their comp pick total, too. Potential: High"
Losing any or all of those players to free agency is just step one. The Lions would also have to replace those without cancelling out the loss with a free agent pickup of their own. For instance, the Lions could be in line for a compensatory pick if they lose Larry Warford and look internally (Laken Tomlinson, Joe Dahl) for his replacement.
However, if they turn around and sign Kevin Zeitler or T.J. Lang, that signing would cancel out the loss of Warford for compensatory pick consideration. The same goes for pursuing the likes of Logan Ryan, Dont’a Hightower or other free agents.
Compensatory consideration may not be a primary factor in deciding how to approach free agency but it is something to think about as rumors fly and players change teams.