We briefly mentioned compensatory picks when we posted the final order for the 2014 NFL Draft now that everything has been finalized, and the fact that the Minnesota Vikings did not receive any compensatory picks. . .again. Nobody knows for sure exactly what the compensatory picks formula looks like, but this is about as good a definition as I can find.
In addition to the 32 selections in each of the seven rounds, a total of 32 compensatory picks are awarded to teams that have lost more or better compensatory free agents than they signed in the previous year. Teams that gain and lose the same number of players but lose higher-valued players than they gain also can be awarded a pick, but only in the seventh round, after the other compensatory picks. Compensatory picks cannot be traded, and the placement of the picks is determined by a proprietary formula based on the player's salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team, with salary being the primary factor. So, for example, a team that lost a linebacker who signed for $2.5 million per year in free agency might get a sixth-round compensatory pick, while a team that lost a wide receiver who signed for $5 million per year might receive a fourth-round pick.
All compensatory picks are awarded at the ends of Rounds 3 through 7.
If fewer than 32 such picks are awarded, the remaining picks are awarded in the order in which teams would pick in a hypothetical eighth round of the draft (These are known as "supplemental compensatory selections").
The National Football League has been giving out compensatory picks since 1994. Over that time, the Minnesota Vikings have only received 17 extra draft selections. Only seven teams have received fewer. By contrast, the Baltimore Ravens have received the most, having been given a whopping 44 extra selections over that time. Part of this has to do with the Vikings signing free agents, and some of it has to do with the Vikings' tendency to not let their in-house players that outplay their rookie contracts get away.
According to one source, however, as things stand right now the Vikings might be on track to add a couple of picks in the future.
Yes, the intrepid folks from Over the Cap are already projecting compensatory draft picks for the 2016 NFL Draft, and so far the Vikings are coming out ahead. They've signed just one unrestricted free agent, that being former St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill. However, they've lost a number of free agents, and Over the Cap has the Vikings receiving two extra seventh-round picks, one for the loss of fullback Jerome Felton and one for the loss of quarterback Christian Ponder.
This might be a part of the Vikings' strategy going forward, as they attempt to do more developing from the inside rather than going on spending sprees. Sure, a couple of seventh-round picks doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it's always nice to give a guy like Rick Spielman as many chances on draft day as possible.