The Ravens drafted offensive tackle Rick Wagner in 2013 with a fifth-round compensatory selection. He was a three-year starter for them before he departed last March to sign a lucrative free-agent deal with the Detroit Lions.
Less than a year later, the Ravens were compensated for his departure, but not in the way they had hoped. Despite speculation that the Ravens would receive an extra third-round pick for their 2017 free-agent losses, they were awarded just a sixth rounder in the 2018 draft. The NFL divvied out its compensatory selections Friday and the Ravens got only the one additional pick.
With the extra sixth rounder at No. 215 overall, the Ravens have eight total picks in April’s draft.
Barring any trades, the Ravens will have one pick in each of rounds one, two, three, four, five and seven and the two selections in the sixth. This draft is a crucial one for the organization as the Ravens have missed the playoffs in three consecutive years and badly need help on offense.
No team has used the compensatory pick formula to their benefit more than the Ravens, who have been awarded 49 extra selections since the system started in 1994. That’s seven more than the next highest team, the Green Bay Packers. The Ravens received three compensatory picks – four is the maximum allowed – each year from 2013 to 2016, but this year marks the second straight draft where they’ll have only one.
Per league rules, a team is eligible for draft pick compensation when it loses more, or better, free agents than it acquired in the previous offseason. Free agents who had been released by their respective teams don’t factor in the equation.
In determining the level of compensation it gives out, the league relies on a formula that takes into account salary, playing time and postseason honors.
The Ravens lost five true unrestricted free agents last offseason and signed three. Wagner, fullback Kyle Juszczyk (San Francisco) wide receiver Kamar Aiken (Indianapolis Colts), offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse (Buffalo Bills) and defensive end Lawrence Guy (New England Patriots) were the losses. The team signed running back Danny Woodhead and defensive backs Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson.
That left them as plus-two in the compensatory formula. However, Ducasse’s modest deal didn’t qualify them for another pick. It was believed that the size of Wagner’s deal - he signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with Detroit – would result in an extra third rounder. However, according to Nick Korte, who projects compensatory picks for the website overthecap.com, Wagner and Jefferson ultimately canceled each other out and the sixth rounder was the result of the loss of either Juszczyk or Guy.
Wagner’s situation embodies how the Ravens have navigated the compensatory system over the years. They used a compensatory selection to draft him, benefited from him developing into a quality tackle that started 47 games over four seasons and then received a draft pick in return after he departed for a significant deal elsewhere.
The list of players that the Ravens have acquired through compensatory picks includes Juszczyk, tight end Nick Boyle, center Ryan Jensen, defensive end/outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, defensive end Brent Urban and defensive tackle Willie Henry.