With 22 players hitting unrestricted free agency back on March 9, the Buffalo Bills looked to be in good shape to receive some draft-pick compensation from the NFL in 2018 by way of some of those players signing elsewhere.
Now more than two weeks into free agency, however, that possibility is looking remote.
That's for a couple different reasons. No. 1, those now-former Bills haven't exactly been hot commodities on the open market. Just six of them have changed teams. No. 2, the Bills have been active on the free-agent market themselves, signing eight players who were qualifying unrestricted free agents from other teams.
The players lost for the Bills so far are: CB Stephon Gilmore (New England), WR Robert Woods (L.A. Rams), WR Marquise Goodwin (San Francisco), WR Justin Hunter (Pittsburgh), LB Lerentee McCray (Jacksonville) and QB EJ Manuel (Oakland).
The team has signed: S Micah Hyde (Green Bay), S Jordan Poyer (Cleveland), G Vladimir Ducasse (Baltimore), FB Patrick DiMarco (Atlanta), K Stephen Hauschka (Seattle), WR Andre Holmes (Oakland), DE Ryan Davis (Dallas), and CB Leonard Johnson (Carolina).
According to the website overthecap.com, which maintains a compensatory draft pick cancellation chart, the losses of Gilmore, Woods, McCray and Goodwin have been cancelled out by the additions of Hyde, Poyer, Hauschka and DiMarco. Buffalo's losses of Hunter and Manuel are listed as non-qualifying unrestricted free agents lost, as is the addition of Johnson. The additions of Holmes, Ducasse and Davis are given seven-round values, according to the website.
According to the NFL, under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better qualifying free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory picks. So far, the Bills have gained more than they've lost.
There is still time for that to change, but it would take a run on former Bills signing elsewhere to make that happen. If players like Zach Brown, Corbin Bryant, Robert Blanton, Leger Douzable, Brandon Spikes, Corey White and Jerome Felton sign elsewhere, it could impact the Bills' chances. Those players would have to sign with a new team by May 9 -- any signings after that do not impact the compensatory formula, which sometimes means teams will wait to improve their chances of landing additional draft picks.
Buffalo's additions of fullback Mike Tolbert, wide receiver Philly Brown, wide receiver Jeremy Butler, wide receiver Corey Washington and running back Joe Banyard do not factor into the compensatory formula. Tolbert was released before the start of the 2017 league year by the Panthers, while Brown (Carolina) and Butler (L.A. Chargers) were not tendered contract offers by their former teams as restricted free agents.
Because they were released by the Bills, if Corey Graham, Marcus Easley, Aaron Williams, Dan Carpenter or Nickell Robey-Coleman were to sign elsewhere, they also would not impact the formula.