The 2021 NFL supplemental draft has been cancelled.
The NFL won’t hold a supplemental draft in 2021, per source.
Under the CBA, it’s up to the league and for the second straight year it won’t have one.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 29, 2021
The supplemental draft was introduced in 1977.
.@NFL cancels supplemental draft for 2nd straight year; 3rd time since inception in 1977 that it won't be held
— Cristhian (@cfsalazar) June 29, 2021
Since that time, 46 players have entered the league by this process.
This draft is structured and formatted differently than the April draft proceedings.
Teams are split into three groups per the following criteria:
- The six worst teams from the previous season
- Teams that didn’t qualify for playoffs
- Playoff teams
There is a weighted drawing system that determines draft order.
Bidding on players follows the draft order designations; teams bid on a player by saying which round in the draft they would have selected him.
If two teams bid the same for a player, the predetermined draft order determines who is awarded the player.
The winning team gives up the corresponding draft selection in the following year’s traditional draft.
Players not selected in the supplemental draft are eligible for free agency.
Though the supplemental draft is part of the NFL’s offseason process, it is not a big deal that it has been cancelled, and here is why.
Cancelled in 2020 Also
This is the second year in a row that the supplemental draft has been cancelled.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was cancelled in 2020 also.
A team’s inability to draft a player via the supplemental draft does not make or break its fate for the season.
It hurts the individual players more than the NFL teams.
Few Stars Have Come From Supplemental Draft
Out of the 46 players who entered the league via the supplemental draft, only a select few became household names.
The player pool for the supplemental draft focuses on players with academic or other eligibility issues that affect their ability to be considered as part of the traditional draft process in April.
Josh Gordon is a recent star from the 2012 supplemental draft; he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
He was a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion during his NFL career though it was curtailed by persistent substance abuse issues.
Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter also entered the NFL in 1987 via the supplemental draft after being suspended in his senior season for signing with an agent.
Not all players in the supplemental draft have negative eligibility issues.
Some graduate early and opt not to declare for the April draft because perhaps they believe they may end up on a particular team that is undesirable to them.
Players in this situation include University of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar in 1985 (selected by the Browns via supplemental draft) and Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth in 1987 (selected by the Seattle Seahawks).
Bosworth in particular wanted to play for the Los Angeles Raiders and actively marketed himself to the Raiders and told the other teams he was not interested.
In the end, the Seahawks ignored his wishes and drafted him.
It is unclear the future fate of the NFL supplemental draft as it has been cancelled two years in a row.
Perhaps the NFL will reconsider this process and figure out another way to reach this subset of players.