Tampa Bay Buccaneers

More Choice

The Bucs picked up an extra draft choice on Monday when the NFL announced 32 compensatory picks based on free agency gains and losses of a year ago

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CB Tim Wansley wasn't specifically a compensatory pick, but he is a recent seventh-round choice who has become a contributor for the Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2004 draft assets just increased by one.

The NFL announced Monday that 32 compensatory picks have been added to the 2004 draft, with the picks distributed among 15 teams. One of those picks, a seventh-rounder, belongs to the Buccaneers.

The league has now been awarding compensatory draft choices since 1993, the first year of the new collective bargaining agreement. The system is designed to recompense teams who have suffered a net loss in players in the previous year's free agency period.

The system isn't completely based on the sheer number of players coming and going on a specific club. A formula developed by the NFL Management Council is applied to the free agents signed and lost – based on salary, playing time and postseason honors – and not every free agent lost or signed is covered by the formula. In fact, Tampa Bay is one of two teams (the other is Green Bay) that will receive a compensatory pick this year despite signing and losing the same number of players covered by the formula.

In the Bucs' case, four players were covered by the formula. Safety Dexter Jackson, who signed with Arizona, and linebacker Alshermond Singleton, who jumped to Dallas, comprised the team's lost players. Those were balanced by free agent acquisitions John Wade and Jason Whittle. Under the formula, the compensatory free agents the Bucs lost were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based on salary and performance); it was likely significant that Jackson and Singleton had more combined playing time in 2003 than Wade and Whittle.

The Bucs now have three seventh-round draft picks in this year's draft, and a total of eight picks overall. The club is without its second-round pick, having surrendered it to Oakland in 2002 as part of the package to acquire the rights to sign Head Coach Jon Gruden. Prior to Monday's compensatory announcement, Tampa Bay already had an extra seventh-round pick, gained from Indianapolis in September of 2002 in exchange for safety David Gibson, who has since rejoined the Buccaneers.

Compensatory picks are added to the end of rounds 3-7, and cannot be traded. Of the 32 picks awarded by the NFL on Monday, 22 follow the seventh round. The Bucs' pick is the 19th of those 22 picks, the 252nd selection overall. The compensatory picks push the entire 2004 NFL draft to 255 selections, of which the Oakland Raiders will make the final pick.

This is the second consecutive year that the Buccaneers have been awarded exactly one compensatory pick. Three teams led the way with four extra picks on Monday – Philadelphia, St. Louis and the New York Jets. Those three clubs combined to lose 18 free agents covered by the formula and sign just two in 2003. Cincinnati, which lost such players as Gus Frerotte, Cory Hall, Nicolas Luchey, Lorenzo Neal and Takeo Spikes last year, received only compensatory pick but it was the most valuable one of the bench, the only one following the third round.

The pick gained by the Buccaneers last year was at the end of the fourth round, and it marked the second-highest compensatory pick the team had ever been awarded. Tampa Bay used that pick, the 133rd selection overall, to take Northwestern center Austin King, who made the 53-man roster last year but did not appear in a game. The highest compensatory pick ever awarded the Buccaneers was the 128th choice in 1997, which the club used on Singleton.

Overall, the Bucs have gained 10 compensatory picks in the 12 years of the system, ranking right in the middle of the NFL, tied for 15th. The Dallas Cowboys, who did not get an extra selection this year, lead the way over that 12-year span with 23 compensatory picks, and the Packers are second with 22.

This will mark the third time in the last four years that Tampa Bay has made three or more picks in the seventh round of the draft. Compensatory picks helped the Bucs select three times in the seventh round in 2001 and four times in 2002. Of those seven players, only cornerback Tim Wansley remains with the club. In 2003, Wansley played in 12 games with six starts and contributed 56 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defensed.

The 2004 NFL Draft will be held the weekend of April 24-25. The first three rounds will be conducted on Saturday and the remainder of the draft on Sunday. The Bucs are currently scheduled to pick 15th in the first round.

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