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Why The Dallas Cowboys Will Not Get Any Compensatory Picks In The 2017 NFL Draft

The Cowboys had four compensatory picks in the 2016 NFL draft, but won't be getting any this year.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Back in April 2016, I argued that the Cowboys probably wouldn't get any comp picks in the 2017 NFL draft, and today there's no more guesswork to it: the Cowboys won't get any comp picks this year.

And the reason for that is fairly simple. The compensatory draft picks are awarded to teams losing more or better compensatory free agents than they acquired, and the Cowboys didn't lose enough compensatory free agents to qualify for a pick, even though they themselves "only" signed four free agents last year.

The Cowboys did have a number of free agents, but not every free agent lost or acquired automatically qualifies as a compensatory free agent, and unfortunately for the Cowboys, most of them did not qualify as compensatory free agents.

An important cut-off date for compensatory free agents is the second Tuesday after the NFL Draft (May 10 in 2016, May 9 in 2017). Why is that important? Because free agents signed after that date don’t count toward the determination of compensatory draft picks. For a team that signed a free agent after May 10 last year, that signing didn't reduce its potential haul of compensatory picks. Similarly, teams that lost free agents after May 10 didn't get any additional compensatory picks in return.

Prior to May 10 last year, the Cowboys added four free agents in DT Cedric Thornton, DE Benson Mayowa, RB Alfred Morris, and OG Joe Looney while losing three free agents in Matt Cassel, Mackenzy Bernadeau, and Robert Turbin. But not every one of these players was a compensatory free agent who would count against the comp pick formula.

Compensatory Free Agents lost: 2 Compensatory Free Agents gained: 2
Player POS Annual Value
Contract Value POS Annual value
Matt Cassel
QB $2,000,000 Cedric Thornton DT $4,250,000
Mackenzy Bernadeau
OG $1,500,000 Alfred Morris RB $1,750,000
Non-compensatory free agents
Player POS Annual Value

Contract Value POS Annual value
Robert Turbin
RB $760,000 Benson Mayowa DT $2,750,000
Joe Looney OG $1,016,667

Robert Turbin and Joe Looney didn't sign large enough contracts to meet the minimum threshold to qualify as a compensatory free agent. Benson Mayowa became a non-compensatory free agent when the Raiders didn't match his offer sheet from the Cowboys. Which leaves the Cowboys with two compensatory free agents signed versus two lost. In sum, that results in zero compensatory picks.

The Cowboys obviously had more free agents leaving the team than the three above, but the likes of Greg Hardy, Jeremy Mincey, Nick Hayden, Danny McCray, Casey Walker, Rodney Smith, and Tyler Clutts remained unsigned until May 10, and not one of them made the 53-man roster on any other team last year.

Armed with the knowledge of how the comp picks process works, one of my next articles will look at how if the Cowboys play their cards right in free agency, they may secure some extra compensatory draft picks in 2018.