Broncos hope league meetings open with good draft news

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Beginning Sunday the NFL’s top decision-makers, top team executives and head coaches gather in Phoenix for the league's annual spring meetings.

There will be the requisite state-of-the-NFL address from commissioner Roger Goodell to formally open the affair Monday morning to go with several days’ worth of revenue projections, potential revenue streams, an update on the NFL's potential return to Los Angeles, and assorted discussions about possible rules changes.

But the Denver Broncos' the first real nugget of news is expected to come Monday, when the league formally announces how the compensatory draft picks will be dispensed for this year's draft.

Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway has said he believes the Broncos could get as many as four compensatory picks. Compensatory picks are based on a team’s losses in free agency compared to the players they signed in the previous season.

This year’s compensatory picks would be based on the Broncos players who departed in free agency in 2014 as compared to those who were signed. Four compensatory picks would certainly break new ground given the Broncos have only had more than one compensatory pick in two drafts -- 1999 and 2005. They had two compensatory picks in each of those years.

The Broncos have six draft picks at the moment, and four additional picks would give them 10.

The Broncos were one of the most active teams in free agency a year ago, signing front-line players such as T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and Emmanuel Sanders -- who all played in the Pro Bowl. However, players like Ware, who were released by their former teams before free agency officially opened, do not count as a gain or loss in the compensatory math. Peyton Manning's signing in 2012 also didn't factor in for the same reason, as he was released by the Indianapolis Colts prior to signing.

The Broncos' losses in free agency before the 2014 season included Eric Decker, Zane Beadles, Mike Adams, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Wesley Woodyard and Jeremy Mincey. All of those players were starters for their new teams. The Broncos also lost Robert Ayers, Knowshon Moreno (finished season on injured reserve) and Shaun Phillips, players who were regulars for their respective teams at some point this past season.

Ayers played in 12 games for the Giants this past season with one start, while Phillips played in 16 games for the Titans and Colts combined with one start. Moreno's season ended early because of injuries, but he was the team's starter when it ended.

The Broncos have had just one compensatory pick in the last eight drafts -- in 2011 when they selected Jeremy Beal in the seventh round. Since the 2004 draft they have had just five compensatory picks overall -- 2004 (Brandon Miree), 2005 (Domonique Foxworth, Maurice Clarett), 2006 (Domenik Hixon) and Beal.