The NFL typically holds a supplemental draft in the second week of July. Often enough, no player ends up being selected, but usually, at least one player is taken. Since 1977, there has been at least one player selected in the supplemental draft 29 times, including 2019 most recently, with the Arizona Cardinals selecting safety Jalen Thompson.
The supplemental draft is used to accommodate players who between the window for declaring for the traditional NFL Draft and the potential supplemental draft experience circumstances that change their status and result in their deciding that they want to exit college and pursue an NFL career.
The year of 2020 will not include a supplemental draft for these players, the NFL announced earlier this month. Tom Pelissero was the first to report this on July 1, and we are passing it along now because some readers have asked about its status. So, once again, the answer is that there will not be a supplemental draft this year.
Under the CBA, the NFL may elect to hold a supplemental draft each year. The matter was discussed with the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, and in light of current conditions, the decision was made not to hold one.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 1, 2020
The Collective Bargaining Agreement gives the NFL the authority to hold a supplemental draft, but it is not required to do so. Likewise, the CBA allows the league to conduct four preseason games in a regular season with 16 games, but it is not required to do so with the consent of the NFLPA.
The determination to forego the supplemental draft this year was reached following discussions with the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, which made the decision not to hold the event in light of the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic around the country.
Earlier this year, the league refused to budge on potentially moving the traditional NFL Draft in late April. It took immense effort and coordination to pull it off entirely virtually, but it was a largely successful endeavor.
The supplemental draft is not aired, so it would not require the sort of infrastructure that the regular draft would. Teams simply go through the rounds and with each pick decide whether or not to draft a player, not knowing when or where another team might be interested in a player. Most often, players who declare are not drafted, but they can be signed by any team afterward.
The most significant player to be drafted through the supplemental process in the past decade is wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was a first-team All-Pro in his second season in 2013. Of course, he has been suspended numerous times since then, and as a result hasn’t managed to play a full season.
In all, 46 players have been drafted through the supplemental draft in its history. Cris Carter, the former wide receiver most notably of the Minnesota Vikings, is to date the only one to have entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As of this writing, it is undetermined how the league will handle the eligibility of players who had qualified for entry into the supplemental draft. It’s possible that they may be allowed to sign with anybody, or they may have to wait until next year.