The NFL announced its compensatory picks for the 2016 NFL Draft on Friday, and the Buffalo Bills have been awarded two of them: a fourth-round pick, and a sixth-round pick. They now have eight picks in this year's draft.
In the NFL's press release, the free agent formula only listed Tyrod Taylor as a notable addition to the roster, while mentioning Erik Pears, C.J. Spiller, Lee Smith, and Da'Norris Searcy as departures. That result is surprising, and suggests that the Bills may have been able to "game the system" this year. How did they do it?
- Charles Clay, the top target of Buffalo's 2015 offseason, doesn't count in this formula despite signing a five-year, $38 million contract with the Bills. Apparently (at least in this one case), players who sign an offer sheet after being transition tagged don't count as free agent losses or gains.
- Jerome Felton signed a four-year, $9.2 million contract with the Bills last year. However, he wasn't a traditional free agent in the eyes of the NFL's front office, and the explanation may be that he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Vikings to enter free agency early.
- Defensive end Alex Carrington was signed relatively late in free agency, with the one-year deal announced on May 4, 2015. The signing took place after the 2015 NFL Draft, which may have disqualified Carrington from counting as a free agent.
On the other side of things, the Bills were fortunate to see some of their players signing big contracts in free agency.The four year, $24 million contract signed by Searcy, and the four year, $16 million contract for Spiller, likely were the deciding factors in the picks awarded to Buffalo.
Compensatory picks cannot be traded until the 2017 NFL Draft, but the extra picks on the third day give Buffalo some trading flexibility with their other picks. With the draft order now finalized (barring trade outcomes), here are all of Buffalo's picks in the 2016 NFL Draft: