The NFL's 2018 free agency period is slowly winding down: Most of the major moves have already been made as teams are now a) filling out their rosters with lower-profile signings, and b) have turned their attention to the upcoming draft. For the New England Patriots, the last month was one dominated by personnel losses as core players like Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Butler all left the team via the open market.
All four played considerable roles on the 2017 Patriots and saw their market value go beyond what the team was willing or able to pay them. In total, six players left the team – the four named above plus Cameron Fleming and Johnson Bademosi – through free agency and all six will now factor in the league's compensation scheme: they might bring New England additional draft choices next year.
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 that 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 two 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. The rest of the team's losses, meanwhile, gets cancelled out by the additions made over the last few weeks. Of course, this is all a fluid process and a lot could still change over the next month until the compensatory window for the 2018 free agency closes on May 8.
That the Patriots will be awarded two additional third-round picks for next year's draft is all but certain, though. Consequently, the team's 2019 draft board – as of right now – is projected to look as follows:
Rd. 3 (compensatory: Nate Solder)
Rd. 3 (compensatory: Malcolm Butler)
New England currently does not own picks in rounds three and six due to trading for defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Johnson Bademosi, respectively. If the Patriots were to trade away 2019 draft selections until compensatory picks get awarded in February of next year, they would not be allowed to trade the projected compensatory picks: projected picks cannot be dealt.