In the annual league meeting yesterday, the compensatory draft picks were given out to teams. The Cardinals were credited with a 7th round pick, 254th overall. The compensatory draft picks are given out every year depending on the team's free agency losses/gains the year before. To put it in perspective, if a team loses a key free agent and they are given a large deal by another team, the team that lost the free agent gets the extra pick depending on the contract the player received. Its a complicated formula to figure out and it's usually easy to guess depending on the quality of the player that was lost.
Here's Wikipedia's take on it:
In addition to the 32 picks in each round, there are a total of 32 picks awarded at the ends of Rounds 3 through 7. These picks, known as "compensatory picks," are awarded to teams that have lost more qualifying free agents than they gained the previous year in free agency. Teams that gain and lose the same number of players but lose higher-valued players than they gain also can be awarded a pick, but only in the seventh round, after the other compensatory picks. Compensatory picks cannot be traded, and the placement of the picks is determined by a proprietary formula based on the player's salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team, with salary being the primary factor. So, for example, a team that lost a linebacker who signed for $2.5 million per year in free agency might get a sixth-round compensatory pick, while a team that lost a wide receiver who signed for $5 million per year might receive a fourth-round pick.
Compensatory picks are awarded each year at the NFL annual meeting which is held at the end of March; typically, about three or four weeks before the draft.
If fewer than 32 such picks are awarded, the remaining picks are awarded in the order in which teams would pick in a hypothetical eighth round of the draft (These are known as "supplemental compensatory selections").
How this will affect the Cardinals: 7th round steals aren't common in the NFL, but they are possible. Ben Patrick comes to mind as the most recent, somewhat successful 7th round pick to be taken by the Cardinals. We will most likely see a player that isn't high priority, but is needed for depth. Expect to see a tight end, offensive lineman, or a special teams standout get the pick.
Side notes: The Rams failed to get any compensatory picks for their losses in '07 (which wasn't much). The 49ers did get a 5th and 7th round pick, while surprisingly, the Seahawks received three 7th-round picks.
Do you like the extra pick? Will it even make a difference in the draft? What position should the Cardinals consider with it?