Blount departure might not gain Patriots a pick, but it may help them retain one

Blount departure might not gain Patriots a pick, but it may help them retain one

It seems as though we've been discussing compensatory picks quite a bit lately. And with good reason. 

Last season when Jamie Collins was dealt to the Browns for a conditional compensatory pick last season, we clarified that what the Patriots got in return for Collins was not necessarily the same as what they would've received for him had he left as a free agent. 

Malcolm Butler's situation has some compensatory-pick implications. If the Patriots keep him for the entirety of the 2017 season and then let him walk in free agency -- depending on his contract, how much he plays and how well he plays -- he'll factor heavily into New England's compensatory-pick formula for 2019. 

Now there's LeGarrette Blount.

After the Patriots issued the May 9 tender for Blount last week, they retained their ability to have him count toward their 2018 compensatory pick formula if he signed elsewhere before training camp. Now that he has -- he agreed to a one-year deal with the Eagles, it was announced Wednesday -- let's take a quick look at what that might mean for the Patriots draft next year. 

As always, Nick Korte of, did a bang-up job on the Blount question when the Patriots issued the exceedingly rare May 9 tender last week. 

Korte's theory is, in short, that the Patriots may not pick up an extra compensatory pick for watching Blount fly to Philly after issuing the tender. Instead, the value in having Blount count toward next year's comp-pick formula could be to protect the picks they're already projected to receive. 

As a reminder: The compensatory-pick formula the league uses has never been published, but we know the basics. It's based on free agents lost and free agents acquired in a given year by a particular team. The level of those players is taken into consideration -- based on salary, playing time and other factors -- and then picks are issued to teams who have lost more (or better) free agents than they acquired. 

The key in this situation is that free agents lost who would be deemed worthy of compensatory picks can be canceled out by free agents acquired.

This is significant for the Patriots because, per Korte, the losses of Chris Long and Barkevious Mingo (valued as seventh-round comp picks) will be canceled out by the acquisitions of Lawrence Guy and Rex Burkhead. With Logan Ryan and Stephon Gilmore canceling out, that could leave the Patriots with fourth and fifth-round comp picks for Jabaal Sheard and Martellus Bennett, respectively.

However, if any of these players don't play as much as expected (or at all), the formula would see some shakeup.

For example, if for some reason Barkevious Mingo doesn't make the roster in Indianapolis, the Patriots would lose out on the benefit he provides their formula and potentially lose the fifth-rounder they're scheduled to receive for Bennett. 

By issuing the May 9 tender and having Blount -- who Korte also assigns a seventh-round value -- count toward the formula, the Patriots gain some insurance against Mingo or Long being removed from the formula due to an unexpected dip in playing time. 

Should Blount, Mingo and Long all play up to their contracts, then the Patriots could potentially pick up a late seventh-round comp pick to add to the fourth and fifth-rounders they're already scheduled to get.

That extra 2018 draft capital would be welcome in New England, obviously. But having Blount count toward the formula to help the Patriots guard against losing a fifth-rounder might be deemed even more valuable. 

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.

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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami (FL). He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel and Myles Bryant.

UPDATE (6 p.m. ET): The Patriots are sending a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to Detroit in exchange for Jackson, per the NFL's transaction wire.

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

The New England Patriots added even more depth to an elite group of cornerbacks Sunday by acquiring Michael Jackson in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, who's listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. The Detroit Lions signed him off the Cowboys practice squad last season and he played in one game for the NFC North team.

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Here's an updated look at the Patriots' cornerback depth chart with Jackson in the fold:

--Stephon Gilmore
--Jason McCourty
--J.C. Jackson
--Jonathan Jones
--Joejuan Williams
--Michael Jackson
--Myles Bryant
--D’Angelo Ross

It should be noted that Justin Bethel is listed at cornerback, but most of his snaps come on special teams. 

A strong case could be made that cornerback is the deepest position on the Patriots roster. The group is led by Stephon Gilmore, who became the first Patriot ever to win the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and has earned first team All-Pro selections in back-to-back seasons. 

He's not the only talented cornerback in the Patriots secondary, though. 

J.C. Jackson excelled in coverage last season, too, especially on passes beyond 20 yards. In fact, Jackson had the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted of all cornerbacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

One of the most intriguing players in the Patriots secondary is second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams. He was a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019 but saw limited playing time as a rookie.

The depth of the Patriots defense has been hit hard in recent months due to free agent departures and veterans opting out of the 2020 season amid concerns over COVID-19. One position that has remained largely intact is cornerback, and barring any significant injuries, it could be the team's most productive position this coming season.