OTC, who is the leading media authority on compensatory picks explained how the process works here:
“As the NFL explains, compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lose more or better compensatory free agents than they acquire. The number of picks a team can receive equals the net loss of compensatory free agents, up to a maximum of four. Compensatory free agents are determined by a secret formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. Not every free agent lost or signed is covered by the formula.”
“Donte Moncrief, Jack Mewhort, and Rashaan Melvin are the main young names to watch. The ageless Frank Gore will also be allowed to go to free agency, as is longtime vet Darius Butler. If lower level CFAs leave the Colts can also get some padding to sign external CFAs while still preserving possible comp picks. Potential: Moderate.”
As was pointed out, Moncrief, Mewhort and Melvin could be tough to replace from the standpoint of their body of work.
Moncrief hasn’t put up huge stats in his career, as he averages just 46.0 catches for 561.0 yards and 6.0 touchdowns prorated per season over his four-year career. However, he has started 28-of-56 games (including playoffs).
Mewhort has been a solid player when healthy, but he has missed 19 games in four years, including much of the last two years. He has started 48 games for the Colts, which includes three playoff games.
Melvin is coming off of the two best years of his career, starting 19-of-25 games with the Colts. He is expected to have a big market this offseason, so the attention other teams give him and his ultimate payday this spring may factor into his value that the NFL places on him for a potential comp pick.
Like OTC said, Gore could even land the Colts a comp pick if the offense uses a committee in the backfield and doesn’t have anyone that really stands out over what he’s accomplished. In his three years with the Colts, Gore started every game and averaged 295.0 touches for 1,247.3 yards from scrimmage and 7.3 touchdowns per season.
The Colts were last rewarded a compensatory pick in 2017 for the loss of tight end Coby Fleener during 2016 free agency. They received a fourth-round pick, No. 144 overall.