Two months ago, on April 14, the NFL's 2018 league year and free agency period began – and it was a busy one for the New England Patriots. Not only did the team lose some of its core players from years past headlined by starting left tackle Nate Solder and star cornerback Malcolm Butler, it also brought in multiple players via open market deals and trades.
All in all, though, the balance is a negative one for the Patriots. This, in turn, leads to the team being projected to earn multiple compensatory picks in next year's draft. According to Over The Cap, New England is currently projected to gain four selections for its net free agency losses:
While compensatory selections will not get announced by the NFL until next February, the final tally is ultimately expected to look similar to the projection above. And if it actually did, New England would enter the 2019 draft with a total of currently 12 selections – six of which in the first three rounds (one first-rounder, two second-rounders, three third-rounders).
Today, another step towards that happening will be taken as the NFL's free agency compensation window closes: Any players still on the open market – among them one former Patriot in defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois – can now be signed without having an impact on a team's compensatory chart; unless a tender sheet gets placed on a free agent today:
Deadline for prior club to send “May 8 Tender” to its unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a player contract with a club by July 23 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, he may negotiate or sign a player contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, at 4:00 p.m., New York time, only with his prior club.
New England did this with running back LeGarrette Blount last year and therefore prolonged his counting against the compensation formula for another two months. The gamble paid off for the Patriots, as Blount ultimately signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles that factored in this year's compensatory formula. Don't expect anything like that to happen this year, though.
Therefore, the next date to take a look at when it comes to compensatory draft picks is week 10: If the Patriots, for example, release running back Jeremy Hill before the deadline, he would no longer count against the formula – potentially giving the team a higher seventh-round selection than the one they are currently projected to get (a team can only get a maximum of four extra picks).
It is a fluid process, as can be seen, but one that is expected to result in considerable return for the Patriots next year.