The Bucs' used last year's compensatory pick on Louisville WR J.R. Russell
Over the last two years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have used their draft picks as well as any asset they've possessed.
Obviously, then, it was good news when the NFL awarded the Buccaneers additional assets for the upcoming 2006 draft.
The league announced this year's compensatory picks on Monday, adding a total of 32 selections to the draft and spreading them among 19 teams. Tampa Bay was given three extra picks, one at the end of the sixth round and two at the end of the seventh round. The Bucs now have a total of 10 selections at their disposal in this year's draft.
The compensatory pick system, in place since the original collective bargaining agreement began in 1993, is designed to provide recompense to teams that suffered net losses in the previous year's free agency period. It is not simply a matter of counting up the number of free agents signed and lost, though that is the basic concept of the system. The NFL's Management Council uses a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors for the players who came and went and arrives at a net gain or loss in player value for each team. Those that had a net loss are given extra picks; larger net losses lead to more and earlier selections.
Not every free agent lost or signed is covered by the system. The formula as it applied to the Buccaneers' 2005 free agency maneuvers included four players lost (Keith Burns, Cosey Coleman, Chartric Darby and Dwight Smith) and one signed (Anthony Becht). The three additional picks is the most the Bucs have had in four years; they received exactly one compensatory selection in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
The Bucs now have three seventh-round draft picks for the fifth time in the last six years, and these late selections have proven to be much more than just window dressing.
Last year, the Bucs had four choices in the final round and used them on fullback Rick Razzano, wide receiver Paris Warren, safety Hamza Abdullah and wide receiver J.R. Russell. Razzano, Warren and Russell all appeared on the Bucs' regular-season roster and are all back with the team heading into a second training camp. One of the team's seventh-round picks in 2004, wide receiver Mark Jones, spent his rookie season with the New York Giants but was Tampa Bay's punt returner last year.
The Bucs will have two sixth-round picks to work with, as well, and have found those to be useful, too. They had two sixth-rounders last year, and used one to select defensive tackle Anthony Bryant and one to trade for quarterback Luke McCown. Both remain with the team. The team's sixth-round pick in 2004, tight end Nate Lawrie, was on the active roster for much of 2005 and its sixth-round choice in 2003, cornerback Torrie Cox, recently re-signed for a fourth season.
Only the Baltimore Ravens were given more compensatory picks this year, with four. The Bucs, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans each got three and Green Bay, New England, Philadelphia and St. Louis were awarded two each.
Over the 14 years the compensatory pick system has been in place, the Bucs have been awarded exactly 14 picks, which is tied for 11th most in the league during that span. The Dallas Cowboys, who did not get any extra picks this year, have gained the most overall, with 25 and the Packers are next at 24.
In terms of round placement, the New York Jets drew the best pick this year, as their one compensatory pick will fall after the third round, or 97th overall. In last year's free agency period, the Jets lost Becht, Jason Ferguson, LaMont Jordan and Kareem McKenzie and signed Derrick Blaylock, Barry Gardner and Lance Legree.
Four picks were added to the end of the fourth round and five were tacked on to the end of the fifth, but the majority of the picks fall after the sixth and seventh rounds, as usual. The seventh round will now be 15 picks longer than it was originally set to be, and the draft as whole increased from 223 picks to 255. It would have been 256 but the Miami Dolphins used one of their 2006 picks to select USC defensive end Manuel Wright in last summer's supplemental draft.
The Oakland Raiders will pick Mr. Irrelevant at number 255. Compensatory picks cannot be traded.
The Bucs' extra pick at the end of the sixth round is number 202. Their extra seventh-round selections are numbers 241 and 244.
The Bucs' compensatory pick last year was used on Russell. In 2004 it was a seventh-rounder used on Southern cornerback Lenny Williams and in 2003 it was a fourth-rounder spent on Northwestern C Austin King. The most accomplished player picked up with one of these extra choices is linebacker Alshermond Singleton. Drafted at the end of the fourth round in 1997, Singleton spent six seasons in Tampa Bay and started in Super Bowl XXXVII before leaving for Dallas via free agency.
The 2006 NFL Draft will be held the weekend of April 29-30. The first three rounds will be conducted on Saturday and the remainder of the draft on Sunday. The Bucs are currently scheduled to pick 23rd in the first round.