Compensatory draft picks are assigned for losing more and better free agents than a team signs. The NFL's formula is a closely guarded secret that the teams don't even understand but has been based mostly on the average annual salary of a contract.
In 2012, the Packers lost Scott Wells to a four-year, $24 million contact ($6 million per season) and Matt Flynn to a three-year, $19.5 million deal ($6.5 million per season), and signed Jeff Saturday for two years and $7.75 million. Based on precedent, Saturday's contract would have canceled Wells' contract (the lesser per-year deal), so the Packers' pick would have been based on Flynn's salary.
Atlanta was awarded the last of the fourth-round choices. Its big free-agent loss was linebacker Curtis Lofton going to New Orleans for five years and $27.5 million, or $5.5 million per season.
The only explanation is it came down to playing time. Historically, playing time hasn't been a major factor, so the NFL possibly tweaked its formula this year. Either that, or Flynn played so little that it diminished the value of his contract. Wells played 434 snaps in seven games. Flynn played just 38 snaps.
How big of a difference are the picks? Green Bay was awarded the 167th selection. Atlanta's pick at the end of the fourth round is No. 133.
Since the NFL began awarding compensatory picks, only Baltimore (37) has been awarded picks than Green Bay's 31.
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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.