Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has not tried to hide the fact that he has compensatory picks in mind. At the NFL Combine, for example, Grigson mentioned how letting some of their free agents walk could earn the Colts compensatory picks as a result. And, with those picks becoming tradable for the first time next year, those extra draft picks could become increasingly valuable.
The first wave of free agency is over, and the Colts have lost three starters. Tight end Coby Fleener signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the New Orleans Saints; inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Chicago Bears; and safety Dwight Lowery signed a three-year, $7.2 million deal with the San Diego Chargers. By comparison, the Colts haven't really signed anyone of note, as the only moves they have made are to sign quarterback Scott Tolzien (a two-year, $3.5 million deal) and running back Robert Turbin (one-year, $760,000).
The formula for compensatory picks is unknown and, at times, unclear. The best understanding, however, is that the primary factor in the compensatory pick formula is the contract a player signed with his new team (in terms of annual money). The formula seems to also take into account playing time and player performance as well.
With that in mind, Over the Cap undertakes the process of projecting the compensatory picks each year and are generally quite accurate at doing so. As of right now, they currently project the Colts receiving two compensatory picks for the 2017 NFL Draft, though this is crucial to understand: more moves will still happen that will affect the picks, so this is far from certain.
As of right now, however, OTC has the Colts getting a fourth round pick for the loss of Coby Fleener (the highest possible with compensatory picks is the third round) and a sixth round pick for the loss of Jerrell Freeman. The loss of Dwight Lowery, which would potentially have opened the Colts up for an additional seventh round pick, is cancelled out by the addition of Scott Tolzien.
These are only predictions, but they seem to be in line with what we should expect from the Colts' free agency so far. They have lost a few good players, and some of them - in particular Coby Fleener - were rewarded nicely in terms of contract value. Since that factors heavily into the compensatory pick formula, the Colts should be receiving some additional picks for the 2017 NFL Draft since they are unlikely to sign someone that would cancel out Fleener's contract. It's still possible that the Colts will sign a player that could mess up this formula and so it's important to keep in mind that this is a fluid projection, but as of right now it seems the Colts' offseason plan of keeping compensatory picks in mind is working out.