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Let Me Explain: Compensatory picks are like trades

Listen to the Vets, Rook.

I'll be starting a new column during this offseason called "Let me explain", please list in the comments any obscure football concepts you'd like explained. Some of my planned articles will include: Restricted Free Agency, the year 2010 in the NFL, how to scout a lineman, how to read a defense before the snap, and the reasoning behind personnel shifts. Any others you'd like to see, or any of those that are especially interesting (or boring) to you, let me know. I'll adjust my plans accordingly. By the way, It's good to be home and writing again. So, without further adieu...

Let me explain…

The case for compensatory picks.

The Jaguars got two compensatory picks in this year’s draft. These were used to select Liberty RB Rashard Jennings, and Rutgers WR Tiquan Underwood. Whether or not either player makes the final 53 man roster isn’t what matters here, what matters is that we now own the rights to two players we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see had we not been awarded the picks to draft them with. There was no chance either Tiquan or Jennings would have signed with the Jaguars had we no selected them. We gave two players in our backfield new contracts during the offseason, MJD and Montel Owens. Very few RB’s would agree to sign with a team who tied up their backfield as we did. WR was another area of focus both in the draft and free agency, and it is unlikely Tiquan Underwood would have come to a team that just drafted 2 top quality college players, and signed a future hall of famer.

These two picks epitomize the philosophy of Gene Smith and the future of Jaguars’ football. Compensatory picks (not necessarily these players in particular), are the future of the Jaguars. We will not resign players past their prime, we will not waste valuable dollars to prevent players from leaving in free agency, and we will not get involved in bidding wars with other teams. We will likely not get much in the way of compensatory picks next season, probably close to what we got this year (two 7th rounders). The signings of Torry Holt and Tra Thomas virtually guarantees that, however, this philosophy will take time to fully implement, as the debacle of the Shack Harris regime is only a few months removed. Big spending in February is soon going to become a thing of the past, and once it is fully phased out, expect multiple compensatory picks to become the norm, not the exception.

If you support the concept of trading players for picks, then it doesn’t get much better than the compensatory route. Think of compensatory picks as a trade you are making with the NFL itself, as opposed to trading with other teams. The real value of compensatory picks, however, lies in the pocket book. When you re-sign a player, there is almost always a signing bonus or guaranteed cash that the team has to pay out. When you let a player walk in free agency, you not only prevent yourself from having to pay out these big guaranteed dollars, but you force your competition to pick up the tab. On top of that, your team is award picks by the league based on the signing. Talk about the best of both worlds!

Contrary to popular belief, the NFL draft is actually 8 rounds. The 32 picks that would make up the eight and final round are all compensatory selections and are interspersed throughout rounds 3 through 7. If less than 32 total compensatory picks are awarded by the league, then the remainder are added to the end of the seventh round and go to the worst teams by record (one each) until the remaining selections are exhausted. The only downside to compensatory picks is a minor one; teams are forbidden to trade the selections away.

Welcome to a new era of football, Jags’ fans. The remorseless, calculating hand of our new Emperor is as reassuring to you as it is to me. We have a man who is a top talent evaluator making our choices. He values heart, character, and skill. He will not reach for need, and he will not be fleeced in a trade. Relax… Gene’s got the conn…

-Collin Streetman