In 2000, the Patriots — having only just hired Bill Belichick — chose Tom Brady in the sixth round of the NFL draft using a compensatory draft pick awarded to the team due to free agent departures in the previous offseason.
Flashing forward to 2021, the cycle will finally be complete when New England is awarded a compensatory draft pick due to Brady’s own free agent departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Exactly when and where that pick will be in the draft order remains to be seen, but NFL analysts are already making educated guesses.
And since the Patriots also saw several other players leave as free agents, it will mean the team probably gets multiple compensatory picks.
The formula for determining the round of a compensatory pick is based around the average salary per year (APY), the amount a played in the previous season (snap counts), and if he won awards or was named to NFL honors, such as the Associated Press All-Pro Team.
A compensatory pick can only fall between the third and seventh rounds. And should a team sign an equally qualified free agent, it can offset players who left (negating compensatory picks).
Based on the criteria, NFL.com writer Lance Zierlein predicted the Patriots will receive:
- a 2021 third round pick
- two 2021 fourth round picks
“The formula is very straightforward here,” Zierlein wrote, “with the Patriots losing five qualifiers and collecting two free agents with very modest contracts to cancel out the lower-end free agents. The contracts for Brady and Van Noy will clearly garner a third-round pick and a fourth-rounder, respectively, while Collins is likely to bring in a fourth.”
And while the NFL didn’t allow trading compensatory draft picks when Brady was selected in 2000, the rule was changed in 2015 (taking effect in 2017). Given Belichick’s propensity for draft-day trades, it could equip him with extra resources to move up and down the draft board.