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Packers prefer compensatory picks over unrestricted free agents

Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy AP

Packers General Manager Ted Thompson has a formula for building his team, and he’s sticking with it.

Thompson believes in building through the draft, not free agency, and that includes acquiring more draft picks by declining to sign unrestricted free agents. In the NFL, teams that lose more in free agency than they acquire get compensatory picks, and the Packers’ moves in free agency this year indicate that they’re already thinking about acquiring compensatory picks for next year. The NFL doesn’t public the precise formula used to determine compensatory picks, but the simple version is that if the unrestricted free agents you lose are better, higher-paid players than the unrestricted free agents you sign, then the NFL will compensate you the following year with compensatory picks.

As the Green Bay Press-Gazette points out, even the one big name the Packers have signed this offseason, Julius Peppers, was a free agent because he was released by the Bears, not because his previous contract expired. That means he won’t count as an unrestricted free agent addition for the Packers for the purpose of determining their compensatory picks next year.

Last year the Packers lost two key players, receiver Greg Jennings and linebacker Erik Walden, as unrestricted free agents. And the Packers didn’t sign any unrestricted free agents last year. As a result, this year they’re getting an extra third-round pick and an extra fifth-round pick as compensatory selections.

This year the Packers have again not signed away any players whose previous contract expired, but they have lost four players, center Evan Dietrich-Smith, receiver James Jones, defensive lineman C.J. Wilson and offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse. That means the Packers will almost certainly do well when the compensatory picks are passed out a year from now.

Building through the draft and declining to overspend in free agency would be a smart strategy even if the NFL didn’t have a compensatory pick system to reward frugal teams. But when compensatory picks are added to the equation, it’s easy to see why Thompson declines to go after free agents. The Packers have been successful this way. It’s surprising more teams haven’t copied them.

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43 Responses to “Packers prefer compensatory picks over unrestricted free agents”
  1. tccoats says: Apr 3, 2014 5:54 AM

    Unfortunately, the GM for my team loacated, in final four country, has a different strategy….monitor all successful teams and do the opposite….

  2. jetfan74 says: Apr 3, 2014 6:00 AM

    John Idzik pretty much approves this message.

  3. ravensruleandharbaughisgod says: Apr 3, 2014 6:01 AM

    The Ravens wrote the manual on signing unrestricted free agents and restricting their outgoing veterans for compensatory sandwich picks!

  4. richcranium2112 says: Apr 3, 2014 6:31 AM

    Steady Teddy….

    Haters say what you want but consistency pays off. Watch what happens in Denver and NE in two years when a couple great QBs retire after the ‘win now’ approach.

    #rebuilding

  5. starfan79 says: Apr 3, 2014 6:57 AM

    Dallas should get a decent one next year by losing hatcher

  6. tcstunner says: Apr 3, 2014 7:09 AM

    @rich…and what do you think will happen to GB when Rodgers retires? In case you forgot the Packers looked awful while he was out last year.

  7. ch0rn says: Apr 3, 2014 7:15 AM

    Did anyone watch this team play last year when #12 was hurt ? They were terrible, in the bottom 1/3 of the league.. The only reason this guy looks so smart is because Rodgers carries the entire team every week.

  8. seabreezes51 says: Apr 3, 2014 7:16 AM

    It takes strong discipline and most GM’s don’t have the luxury of that discipline because they are often on the hot seat.
    I always thought it would be smart to trade one of this years draft picks for one in an earlier round in the next draft. Dedicate a seventh round every years for that and keep doing it every year, trade that pick back and up. In seven years you will have moved that pick up to an extra first round pick, and if you had the discipline to do it every year, you would have that extra first rounder every year.
    Nobody has the discipline, or time to do that.

  9. pkrjones says: Apr 3, 2014 7:25 AM

    It’s great to have those extra picks, but as a Packer fan it’s frustrating to watch solid veteran players, who would fill a glaring weakness get signed by other teams.

    Next man up ~UDFA paradise as they actually have a chance to make the Packer 53 man roster.

  10. myasylum11 says: Apr 3, 2014 7:46 AM

    Nothing real exciting about Teddy or the Packers.
    It’s hard to get behind a team like that where it seems mediocrity seems to be the goal year after year.

  11. linemanguy74 says: Apr 3, 2014 8:21 AM

    Maybe they will pick some players that can tackle

  12. countyk66ers says: Apr 3, 2014 9:00 AM

    Sam Shields was an UDFA for example.

  13. bpjensen says: Apr 3, 2014 9:19 AM

    Making the playoffs 5 years in a row is being mediocre?

  14. abqpacker says: Apr 3, 2014 10:23 AM

    Getting a 3 for Greg Jennings is what I call a good deal.

  15. beelicker says: Apr 3, 2014 10:35 AM

    Bengals been doing this for years now as well

  16. sportswright says: Apr 3, 2014 10:47 AM

    And it works. Thompson is easily one of the best in the game.

  17. omegalh says: Apr 3, 2014 10:48 AM

    there is also the balancing act.

    Whats better? a proven vet, like MJD, at near min wage or a 7th rounder.

  18. cguy7 says: Apr 3, 2014 11:03 AM

    He has no choice due to the fact that his QB and overrated outside linebacker make up a 1/4 of their cap. (curse of 20 million dollar QB…)

  19. dtownsportslions says: Apr 3, 2014 12:03 PM

    Ted Thompson will was Aaron Rodgers career by consistently giving him above average teams but never great teams and relying on AR to carry the team on his back.

    His draft and develop style is cost efficient but ultimately allows for too much turnover on the roster and lacks continuity.

  20. orivar says: Apr 3, 2014 12:35 PM

    The Packers didn’t look awful when he was out last year, the Packers were/are awful. With Rodgers being out it became obvious that Rodgers makes McCarthy look good. Not only that but also evident that TT’s strategy isn’t a winning formula, yes they had that superbowl year but outside of that are underachievers. Look at the Ravens & Seahawks, a good balance of draft & FAs. Superbowl or verge of superbowl (besides this down year for the ravens).

  21. bearclaw69 says: Apr 3, 2014 1:01 PM

    I’m certainly no fan of overspending on free agents, and frankly think that ALL NFL players are grossly overpaid as it is. That said, you are making it sound like Ted Thompson is the only GM that utilize(d) this strategy. AJ Smith of the Chargers believed and did the very same thing for several years, except for the last year of his employment there when he knew his job was on the line. Some believe that strategy is what earned him his nickname, “The Lord of No Rings”.

  22. mountaindont says: Apr 3, 2014 1:02 PM

    Its great if you can get quality players with those extra picks.. In the Packers case Ted Thompson hasn’t done well drafting on defense. Other than Matthews the Packers don’t have anyone on defense that is much better than average. There may be some potential on defense but as of right now there isn’t much there. The play of the defense reflects that.

  23. pillowporkers says: Apr 3, 2014 1:13 PM

    I think we all saw the true “genius” of Ted Thompson last year when Rodgers got hurt.

  24. filthymcnasty1 says: Apr 3, 2014 1:30 PM

    No NFL team has been more successful than the Packers over the past half decade. Ted’s proteges are now calling the shots in K.C., Seattle and Oakland, and therefore he has produced a league wide “tree” nearly as influential as the immortal Bill Walsh.

    The Packers and greatness – they just go together.

  25. The Almighty Cabbage says: Apr 3, 2014 1:33 PM

    Here we go again. Thompson is terrible. McCarthy is terrible. The whole team is terrible. And yet, they continue to OWN the NFCN. What does that say about the 3 “also rans” in the division?

  26. rikker12 says: Apr 3, 2014 1:33 PM

    This is QB driven league. Any great QB goes down or retires, and if you don’t have an above average back-up QB, your team will struggle. Thats todays NFL. It has been that way since free agency in 1993.
    You have to have stability at the QB position or your team will not win.
    So, all you people commenting on, “If Rodgers goes down GB will not do good”..
    Look at all of the Great or Real sound QB’s in the league.. If one of those QB’s goes down, ya think their team will perform at the same level?
    You have to watch enough football to understand this. But obviously there are a lot of you that just don’t get it!! and never will

  27. mnlittle says: Apr 3, 2014 1:33 PM

    Why would they deserve compensation for Walden when they didn’t draft him? All they lost was a street free agent when he left. Makes no sense that they would deserve any compensation for losing someone who didn’t cost them anything to begin with.

  28. Bluestree says: Apr 3, 2014 1:38 PM

    Yeah, the Packers will be screwed when Rodgers retires because they won’t develop another quarterback….just like they were when Favre left. Rofl. Haters gonna hate and you can’t fix stupid all in one.

  29. filthymcnasty1 says: Apr 3, 2014 1:39 PM

    Why?

    Because some GM’s take the time to learn the rules.

  30. mattseas says: Apr 3, 2014 1:40 PM

    Last I checked, cap space couldn’t score a touchdown.

  31. djshnooks says: Apr 3, 2014 2:04 PM

    Notice how Buffalo NEVER EVER gets compensatory picks?

    Yet uninformed idiots keep saying they are cheap and never spend money.

    It only works one way you morons.

  32. afcdomination says: Apr 3, 2014 2:07 PM

    lot of totally misinformed commenters here talking about compensatory picks but don’t understand it at all. why would a min paid eric walden net a draft pick for GB? they didn’t retain him, he signed for a big enough contract with indy, and GB didn’t sign anyone to cancel out the LOSS that was allowing him to leave

    Kansas City is doing the same this offseason. they lack cap space, so they have signed “released” players who don’t count against the compensatory formula, and banking on netting a 3/4/5/6 type of deal for letting Albert, Schwartz, Mccluster, Jackson leave for big money. they signed no one anywhere near that kind of cash.

    its the whole concept behind compensatory, you lose a guy, don’t replace him with a big money UFA, and get a pick for it if it matches up properly as one of the bigger contracts of the FA period and that player plays as well. Eric Walden played and started for the colts.

  33. mountaindont says: Apr 3, 2014 2:08 PM

    Other than Matthews who on defense have the Packers drafted that you would call well above average? I’m not talking about potential. Perry, Datone Jones, Hayworth, Daniels all have potential but haven’t developed yet. They may never develop like many other defensive draft picks for the Packers. TT has been with GB for enough years that he should have some well developed players on the defense. He doesn’t. The Packers defense has been horrible for the past several years including giving up an NFL record for rushing yardage in a single game by a qb vs SF. They also gave up an all time NFL record for passing yardage in 2011. How has the defense changed since then ? Its still the same.

  34. veence69 says: Apr 3, 2014 2:09 PM

    It’s the Ted Thompson way: strive for 10-6 and hope you get to face a 3rd string QB in the conference title game.

    Hey, it worked once already..

  35. xinellum says: Apr 3, 2014 2:11 PM

    The key to doing this is having a pulse on who is getting released. The Ravens signed Daryl Smith and Elvis Dumervil after they were released, both quality players, free agent or not. Not signing free agents is ok in a good draft year and if a number of good players are getting released, but if you have a need and a free agent is available that fits your system well, you have to ask if that quality player will be availble in the fourth round or later. In most cases the answer is no and it is better to sign the free agent. However, it has worked for Ozzie in Baltimore as they have had more compensatory picks by far than any other team since comp picks have been given out.

  36. ravensterpsarmystrong says: Apr 3, 2014 2:11 PM

    We’ve been doing it in Ravenstown for years. Good job Packers! It works!!!! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!!!

  37. daveyboy043692 says: Apr 3, 2014 2:16 PM

    Does Rodgers make Thompson and McCarthy look good? Yes. And who drafted Rodgers when 20 others passed? Thompson. Who said no to a petulant legend and faced the wrath of Packer fans to hand the reigns to Rodgers? Thompson and McCarthy. Yes, Rodgers carries this team at times, but that’s to Thompson and McCarthy’s credit, not an excuse to blame them.

  38. houndog50 says: Apr 3, 2014 3:17 PM

    I’ll take Rodgers’ $110M contract over Flacco’s $120M or Cutler’s $126.7M any day, anytime! Flacco won the lottery with a good defense and we all saw what”Quitler” does at crunch-time.

  39. axespray says: Apr 3, 2014 3:54 PM

    Yeah the team looked bad when Rodgers went down…with a washed up Seneca Wallace and a young developing Scott Tolzien starting at QB…but they also looked alright with Flynn in the line up (that guy that couldn’t cut it with the Raiders n Bills).

  40. deltaoracle says: Apr 3, 2014 4:00 PM

    It’s a great philosophy when you hit on a lot of your draft choices, like last year. When you miss on almost all of them as TT did in 2011, then it’s not so great. Unfortunately, for all his strengths, Thompson rarely goes into the FA market to correct his mistakes. And that keeps the Pack from taking full advantage of their current championship window.

  41. longtimefanhtr says: Apr 3, 2014 4:28 PM

    A third round compensatory pick is closer to a fourth since it falls at the end of the third round.

  42. dtlb58 says: Apr 3, 2014 10:07 PM

    John Dorsey (Formerly of Green Bay) is starting this, this year with the Chiefs.
    Chiefs will have a ton of draft picks next May and will be cutting some big/bad contracts to free up cap space for good deals. He has only had 1 year with this team, by 2016 draft he should have this team rebuilt pretty good. Oh yea, Pioli sucks! Thanks for ruining. This team with Cassel for 4 years.

  43. superjroch says: Apr 8, 2014 9:53 AM

    You are right, the Packers are terrible with Rodgers. I’m so glad they picked him up in free agency. Wait, what?

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