Building a competitive NFL team is an incredibly complex undertaking. Fantasy football has made it seem easy to some people, but really, there is so much that goes into it.
Handling free agency – particularly compensatory picks – is a key factor.
Ted Thompson loved comp picks. He manged free agency and the cap wisely with a lot of help from the cheap talent he got with players selected with comp picks.
Last year, Brian Gutekunst took a necessary deep dive into free agency and it paid off in spades. One of the by-products of signing four guys to big free agency deals is that the Packers got no comp picks for this year’s draft (not that Gutekunst picked a good year to do this because the Packers didn’t lose any players that would have netted higher than a 6th round pick).
Now, the page turns and we enter a new year. With the defections of Bryan Bulaga (which we totally saw coming), Kyler Fackrell, and Blake Martinez, the Packers are projected to pick up at couple of 4th round picks and a 6th in the 2021 NFL draft.
This shows how valuable comp picks can be, but you really have to zoom out and look at the big picture to see how complex and interrelated the system is.
The Packers signed Tramon Williams as a free agent in the middle of the 2006 season. He had been cut by the Texans, which meant this move did not resut in the Packes misssing out on a comp pick.
Williams went on to be a Pro Bowler and one of the most critical players in the Packers 2010 Super Bowl run.
In 2015, he signed with the Browns in a move that earned the Packers got a 4th round comp pick.
They used that pick on Blake Martinez, who came in and started, finishing in the top 2 in the NFL in tackles for 3 straight years.
The story doesn’t end there, though.
The Packers re-signed Tramon Williams in 2018, a move that cost them a 6th round compensatory pick (not a bad tradeoff considering they got a 4th when he left 3 years earlier), but have received a great return on that investment as the ageless wonder continues to perform.
Now Blake Martinez has signed with the Giants in a deal that is projected to garner the Packers was a 4th round comp pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Packers have replaced him by signing Christian Kirksey, who was cut by the Browns and will not impact the Packers compensatory picks.
It’s quite a story, and it’s still going on.
There is so much more to free agency than just who you pick up in one year – building an NFL team is a long-term job.
Want to learn more about free agency, compensatory picks, and how contract structure impacts the salary cap?
Want to see why Darrelle Revis and Dwayne Bowe were such fascinating cases? Or why the Reggie White situation will never be replicated, even if there ever was someone as talented as him available again?
Well, just in time for free agency, we have the book for you!
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NFL Free Agency Hits and Misses
Check out Packers Draft Central 2020 for all our 2020 NFL Draft and Free Agency coverage!