Since the NFL started awarding compensatory picks in 1994 to teams that lose more free agents than they sign, no team has employed the compensatory pick system more successfully than the Ravens. And the Ravens’ latest move shows once again how they do it.
The Ravens agreed to terms with free agent guard Kevin Zeitler, but Zeitler does not count toward the compensatory pick formula. That’s because Zeitler was cut by the Giants, and players only count toward compensatory picks if they became unrestricted free agents when their contracts expired, and not if they were released by their previous teams.
The Ravens have made no secret of the fact that they wanted to beef up their offensive line this offseason, but they didn’t want to do it by signing one of the many unrestricted free agents who will come on the market on Wednesday, because those players will all count toward the compensatory picks formula. Zeitler is a perfect fit for the Ravens because he doesn’t count.
Baltimore is likely to lose some players who officially become free agents this week, and next year they’ll be awarded compensatory picks for those losses. Since the compensatory pick system began, Baltimore has been awarded a total of 53 compensatory picks, by far the most in the NFL. Both former General Manager Ozzie Newsome and current General Manager Eric DeCosta deserve credit for the way they’ve figured out the compensatory pick system, better than any other team.