1. The New England Patriots have been making moves left and right this free agency period, but they will likely only receive one compensatory draft pick in 2017 for, and this is probably the biggest surprise, safety Tavon Wilson!
Wilson is likely to net the Patriots a 7th round compensatory draft pick as the signing of linebacker Shea McClellin is likely to cancel out the loss of defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Coincidentally, the Chicago Bears are the team on the other side of both of these signings- McClellin is a former Bear, Hicks is now a current member.
McClellin's contract is for roughly $4 million per season, while Hicks signed with the Bears for roughly $5 million per season. This leaves Tavon Wilson as the only other unrestricted free agent of the Patriots to sign with another team (defensive tackle Sealver Siliga signed with the Seahawks, but he was a restricted free agent and doesn't contribute to the compensatory pick calculus).
2. The Patriots have signed the following players, but most were cut by their prior team. Cut players do not factor into the compensatory calculus:
LB Shea McClellin - contract matured with the Bears
ED Chris Long - cut by the Rams
WR Chris Hogan - restricted free agent, doesn't count a la Siliga
RB Donald Brown - cut by the Chargers
LB Ramon Humber - cut by the Saints
DT Frank Kearse - contract matured with Washington
It should be noted that while Kearse should count towards the compensatory pick calculus, salary cap website OverTheCap.com believes that his low contract number means he won't factor in the math, and won't cancel out the loss of Wilson.
Even in a year where the Patriots don't have many free agents, they're still projected to pick up a net positive with compensatory draft picks since they've focused their attention on players that don't count against the team. Compensatory picks are expected to be tradeable next season, which increases their value considerable.
3. Some questioned why the Patriots would trade away edge defender Chandler Jones for a top 10 bust at guard and a 2nd round pick, when they could have used the final year of Jones' contract and then received a 2018 3rd round compensatory pick when he received his mega-deal in free agency. While Jones isn't a top 10 defensive end, he's still one of the top starters in the league and he's a proven quantity.
Think of it this way: a 2016 2nd round pick is of far greater value than a 2018 3rd round pick (assuming that's the best case scenario for Jones).
Remember how the Patriots trade away mid-round picks for a future pick of a greater round? For example, the Patriots traded away a 2010 3rd round pick to the Panthers for their 2011 2nd round pick. This is because current assets are of greater value than future assets. Teams view a 3rd rounder today with the same value as a 2nd rounder next season.
Essentially, a 2016 2nd round pick is more similar in value to a 2018 1st round pick than to a 2018 3rd round compensatory pick at the end of the round. And in a draft where the Patriots don't have first round capital, the trade boosts the Patriots ability to navigate the board.
4. The NFL owners are meeting and while the Patriots haven't proposed any rules, Washington has offered a no brainer decision to eliminate overtime in the preseason. That should be a unanimous decision. There's no reason to have overtime in preseason, if teams truly care about the safety of the players.
5. I'm also curious about the Competition Committee's proposal to move the starting field position after a touchback from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line. The whole 2011 change of moving the kick off line from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line was to reduce the number of returns because "player safety will always trump any other consideration."
The Competition Committee says the move will "sends the right motivation on the ball that is going to come nine yards deep into the end zone, that maybe you take a knee on that play." That's fair.
But to play devil's advocate, won't moving up the starting line reduce the desire of a team to kick a touchback? Wouldn't that lead to more fieldable kickoffs? Won't that lead to more returns? Won't that lead to greater injuries, bringing everyone back to where we started?
Coincidentally, the competition committee submit a 2011 proposal alongside the changed kickoff line to move up the starting field position after a touchback. That was rejected by the coaches who believed "bringing touchbacks out to the 25 would affect field position too much." That sentiment shouldn't have changed over the past five years.
6. Ravens defensive back Tray Walker, a 2015 4th round pick, passed away this weekend after a serious motorcycle accident. Walker had an impact on every player that he interacted with and the collective football community is in mourning.
Walker was not wearing a helmet, his motorcycle did not have lights, and he was wearing dark clothing after dusk as his bike collided with a truck. Please note the safety hazards when riding a motorcycle. Helmets save lives and reduce the chances of head injury by 69%.
Our thoughts are with the Walker family and his community.