While the New England Patriots had a productive free agency period and were able to address some of the most glaring weaknesses on the team, it also suffered some high-profile losses over the course of the last week-plus. The most notable players to leave through the open market are offensive tackle Nate Solder, running back Dion Lewis, wide receiver Danny Amendola and cornerback Malcolm Butler.
All four played considerable roles on the 2017 Patriots and due to various factors – from productivity to upside to experience to simply coming from a winning organization – were awarded with big contracts by their news teams. As a result of this development, New England is now in line to be rewarded rather generously by the league's free agency compensation scheme.
The NFL's compensation roughly works as follows: Teams that lose more free agents than they sign are eligible to be rewarded for their losses and – depending on the contracts of those players who left – will get between one and four draft picks starting at the end of the third round. No more than 32 picks are awarded, though. The Patriots, as things currently stand, are projected to receive three such extra selections, per OverTheCap.com.
As can be seen, New England is projected to gain two extra third rounders for losing Nate Solder to the New York Giants and Malcolm Butler to the Tennessee Titans. Running back Dion Lewis, meanwhile, is projected to earn the team a sixth round selection. Of course, this all is a fluid process and a lot could change over the next few months and until the 2019 compensatory draft picks are expected to be announced in February of next year.
The picks also depend on whether or not defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois actually signs with the Detroit Lions (or another team), as OverTheCap expects to happen. If the signing falls through until the closing of the compensation window in May, however, or New England signs an eligible player to cancel out the Lewis signing, the Patriots would only get two picks.
No matter what happens, though, it appears highly likely that the team gets awarded two compensatory third round picks in 2019. Consequently, the Patriots' draft board might look as follows once its all said and done:
Rd. 3 (compensatory: Nate Solder)
Rd. 3 (compensatory: Malcolm Butler)
Rd. 6 (compensatory: Dion Lewis)
New England currently does not own picks in the third and sixth round due to trading for defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Johnson Bademosi, respectively. If the Patriots were to trade away 2019 draft selections over the next 11 months, they would not be allowed to trade the projected compensatory picks: Only picks that a team definitely owns can be dealt.
[UPDATE, 03/23, 5:10 pm ET] OverTheCap updated its compensatory draft picks cancellation chart including the details of Matt Tobin's deal: