Compensatory picks are handed out based on free agents lost vs. free agents signed. The formula is top secret but the biggest factor appears to be average salary, followed by playing time and awards.
Last offseason, the Packers lost Aaron Kampman, who was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars to a four-year, $24 million contract ($6 million average). Kampman played in just eight games before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. Green Bay did not acquire any unrestricted free agents.
Based on history, the Packers probably will be disappointed and get a compensatory pick at the end of the fourth round rather than the best-case scenario of a pick at the end of the third round.
There are no good comparisons to last year, but in 2009, the San Diego Chargers received a fourth-round pick after losing cornerback Drayton Florence to the Buffalo Bills for an average salary of $5.933 million. Florence started eight games for the Bills.
What could work in their favor is that teams in general spent less in 2010 than they did in 2009. If average salaries league-wide fell enough, maybe Kampman's contract is enough to fetch a third-round pick.
Either way, the Packers appear to be right at that dividing line. The difference is huge. Given a third-round compensatory pick, the Packers would be picking somewhere around No. 100. If it's a fourth-round compensatory pick, it could be around No. 135. Clearly, that's a big difference in terms of talent.
The Packers received a fifth-round pick in 2010 for losing Colin Cole to Seattle. Green Bay used that pick on Marshall Newhouse. In 2008, the Packers received a fourth-round pick for losing Ahman Green. They used that pick on Josh Sitton.
First handed out in 1994, the Packers have made 25 compensatory picks. Along with Sitton, the Packers grabbed Tyrone Williams and Marco Rivera in 1996, Matt Hasselbeck in 1998, Josh Bidwell in 1999, Najeh Davenport in 2002 and Scott Wells in 2004.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.