Every year at the Annual League Meetings (usually on the second day), the NFL announces the 32 compensatory picks that will be handed out to teams. I would expect that to take place on March 18 this season, based on the league calendar. Since that is only a little over two weeks away, I thought it would a fitting time to project whether the Browns would be receiving any compensatory picks for 2013.
The Browns received four compensatory picks for last year's draft -- two sixth-rounders and two seventh-rounders. Those picks ended up being used on LB Emmanual Acho, DT Billy Winn, CB Trevin Wade, and FB Brad Smelley. Acho landed on injured reserve before the start of the season and Smelley rarely played, but Wade ended up playing a lot of snaps in a couple of games and Winn was basically a starter all year.
Unfortunately, as it stands right now, it does not look like the Browns will be adding any compensatory picks in 2013. The basic formula to start with (before looking at contracts) is to look at which free agents were lost and gained during the previous offseason. These have to be players who became unrestricted free agents, not players who were cut. The Browns weren't very busy last offseason, as you can see below:
Players Lost (2)
-RB (1 year, $2.8 million)
-S Mike Adams (2 years, $4 million)
Players Signed (2)
-DE (5 years, $20 million)
-DE (1 year, $3 million)
If the Browns had lost more players than they had signed, they would receive a compensatory selection. Because they signed two players and lost two players, they won't get anything (there is an exception, but you'd have to have lost big-time players and signed scrubs).
In doing my research, I originally thought the Browns might get a compensatory pick because they had also lost OG Artis Hicks in free agency (1 year, $1.5 million). After sifting through various articles, though, I discovered a caveat related to Hicks' signing date with the Browns in 2011: he was claimed off waivers by the Browns, and hence, might not be a player that they "lost," as determined by the formula. If Hicks ends up counting, it would give Cleveland a 3 vs. 2 scenario. In that case, Rucker cancels out Hillis, Parker cancels out Adams, and Hicks could net Cleveland a seventh-round draft pick.
There is still a slight chance that Cleveland could be awarded a seventh-round compensatory pick by default. The NFL has a mandatory policy that they must hand out 32 compensatory picks each year. If the free agent formulas for other teams only end up awarding 26 picks, for example, then the remaining picks are doled out based on the order of the first round of the NFL Draft. The Browns pick sixth, so in that scenario, the Browns would get the final pick of the draft. If the league hands our 27 picks or more, though, the Browns get nothing. Based on a fan's research from January, it looks like the NFL might be handing out 30 picks, which, again, means Cleveland gets nothing.
It is also worth noting that because the Browns released CB Dimitri Patterson and DE Frostee Rucker of their contracts, Cleveland will not be eligible for any compensation for them when it comes to the 2014 offseason.