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T.J. Lang Holds Key to Packers’ Compensatory Picks

What can the Packers expect to receive for compensatory draft picks in 2017, and could Ted Thompson have reason to strike again in free agency?

A key component in free agency for the Green Bay Packers is the acquisition of compensatory draft picks.

With Green Bay losing guard T.J. Lang, defensive back Micah Hyde, center J.C. Tretter and outside linebacker Julius Peppers, and signing only tight end Martellus Bennett, the Packers are plus-3 in the free-agent version of the giveaway-takeaway table.

According to projections at, the Packers would receive a fourth-round pick for losing Lang, fifth-round picks for losing Hyde and Tretter, and a sixth-round pick for losing Peppers. Bennett’s $7 million per season salary is worth a fourth-round pick, which would cancel the selection received for Lang.

Lang, who received a three-year, $28.5 million contract with Detroit that works out to $9.5 million per season, falls close to the third-round/fourth-round border. Kansas City, Seattle, Cleveland and the Jets all received third-round picks in the 2017 draft after losing players with average salaries of between $9 million and $9.25 million in 2016.

If Lang stays healthy and/or earns some postseason accolades, that fourth-round pick could move up to a third-round pick. That would be huge from Green Bay’s perspective. The Packers would get to keep the third-round pick. The fourth-round pick for signing Bennett would take away the best of the fifth-round picks, which would be Hyde (based on his $6.1 million average salary vs. Tretter’s $5.58 million average).

It’s important to note, these are only projections. The NFL’s compensatory-pick formula is a closely guarded secret, though it is governed mostly by average annual salary.

Of course, free agency is not done. The Packers will lose tight end Jared Cook, who remains unsigned. Running back Eddie Lacy, who visited the Seahawks and Vikings and is visiting the Packers today, and outside linebacker Datone Jones, who reportedly will visit the Vikings, could add to the total.

By rule, teams can only get four compensatory picks. And that could open the door for Thompson to strike again in free agency. If the Packers lose, say, Cook and Jones, they’d be at plus-5. Therefore, there would be no ramifications on the number of compensatory picks gained— only the quality — if the Packers were to make another signing.

Bill Huber is publisher of and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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