There's no question the New England Patriots are taking a beating in NFL free agency.
If you thought reportedly losing quarterback Tom Brady -- arguably the greatest player in league history -- was bad enough, the Patriots reportedly will also lose three important defensive players in linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, as well as defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Other free agents, including wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, could leave as well.
One silver lining to losing these players is the Patriots could receive some valuable compensatory draft picks in 2021 as a result. Now, the last thing Patriots fans want to hear about after losing an iconic player of Brady's caliber is the possibility of the team receiving compensatory draft picks. This is completely understandable, but these draft selections do have value, whether New England ultimately uses them to draft players or dangles the picks on the trade market.
Patriots free-agent losses so far:
🏈Kyle Van Noy
Incoming comp picks...
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2020
Just look at some of the players noted above.
Van Noy was acquired by the Patriots from the Detroit Lions in 2016 for the mere price of a 2017 sixth-round draft pick. The Patriots got Shelton and a 2019 fifth-round pick from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a 2019 third-round pick. Both trades worked out pretty well for the Patriots.
Compensatory picks typically fall in the range between the third round and sixth round. The Patriots have had a fair amount of success drafting in these rounds. The list of valuable players New England has selected in this range over the last 10 years includes Joe Thuney, Elandon Roberts, Trey Flowers, Shaq Mason, James White, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Marcus Cannon, among others.
Here's another positive about the future compensatory picks the Patriots could be awarded from losing free agents this offseason. If the Patriots aren't going to be a Super Bowl contender in the short term, it makes perfect sense to stockpile as many draft picks as possible in an attempt to reload the roster.
The Patriots' last three drafts haven't been that great. However, New England does have 12 picks in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, including four compensatory selections from losing free agents last offseason. Only two teams have more picks in April's draft than the Pats. It's a tremendous opportunity for Bill Belichick to reload his roster with young talent, and if the Patriots get two or three more compensatory picks in the 2021 draft, it just gives the team more flexibility to improve a team that has a lot of veteran players.
Here's one silver lining to Patriots' losses in 2020 NFL free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston