Why Casey Hayward's Fifth-Round Compensatory Pick Isn't Surprising

Compensatory picks are confusing. For fans of most teams, you can shrug and go about your day. Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of the Packers, these picks are tremendously valuable to general manager Ted Thompson.

Since their introduction in 1994, the Packers have received the second-most compensatory selections (38) behind the Ravens (48). 32 compensatory picks were awarded to 16 teams this year. The Bengals, Broncos, Chiefs and Browns each gained four extra selections in April’s NFL Draft.

Why are compensatory picks so complicated?

The NFL refuses to release the formula used to calculate compensatory picks. Based on what we do know, here's a simple definition:

A team that loses more or better free agents than it acquires can receive one of these special, extra selections.

Further complicating matters is that the secret NFL formula does not take into account players who were released. The Packers most recent free agent signings, tight end Jared Cook and linebacker Julius Peppers, were both released by their previous teams. Signing with Green Bay did not affect the Packers’ ability to rake in compensatory draft picks.

A fifth-round pick for Hayward is not surprising

Last year, the Packers gained two fourth-round selections for losing cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency. This year, after cornerback Casey Hayward signed with the Chargers, the Packers will receive a fifth-round pick.

Williams signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Browns before the 2015 season and was released after two subpar seasons. House signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Jaguars and played only 25% of the team’s snaps in his second year.

Meanwhile, Hayward signed the most modest contract of the three. The Chargers inked him to a three-year, $15 million deal last offseason, and Hayward led the league with seven interceptions this season.

So how did the Packers get more in return for losing Williams and House than they did for Hayward? When Hayward signed with the Chargers, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Bob McGinn wrote the Packers would likely receive a fifth-round pick as compensation.

It's likely that the value of Hayward's contract limited the value of the compensatory pick, but we can't know for sure since the formula is a secret. It's disappointing the Packers didn't get a higher pick for losing a cornerback who led the NFL in interceptions the following year, but it is not a surprise.

With the 184th pick in the NFL Draft...

All told, there’s no guarantee the player Green Bay selects with the 39th pick of the fifth round in this year’s NFL Draft is going to be an impact player in the future.

Over the past ten years, the 184th pick in the NFL Draft has not historically been the sweet spot for diamonds in the rough:

  • 2016: TE Jerell Adams, New York Giants
  • 2015: WR Kaelin Clay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 2014: DB Kendall James, Minnesota Vikings
  • 2013: TE Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders
  • 2012: DB Isaiah Frey, Chicago Bears
  • 2011: DT David Carter, Arizona Cardinals
  • 2010: DE Adrian Tracy, New York Giants
  • 2009: TE Bear Pascoe, San Francisco 49ers
  • 2008: G Michael Gibson, Philadelphia Eagles
  • 2007: DB John Wendling, Buffalo Bills