On Friday, the NFL announced that the Cleveland Browns received four compensatory picks for the 2017 NFL Draft. Right off the bat, we should remind you that the most lucrative of those compensatory picks, a third-rounder, will be shipped off to the New England Patriots to complete the Jamie Collins trade from last season. In addition, the Eagles will get the Browns’ first fourth round compensatory pick.
Here were the picks that were announced:
- 3rd Round: No. 103 overall (39th pick of the round) - Pick goes to New England
- 4th Round: No. 139 overall (33rd pick of the round) - Pick goes to Philadelphia
- 4th Round: No. 142 overall (36th pick of the round)
- 5th Round: No. 183 overall (38th pick of the round)
Let’s go over why the Browns were awarded four compensatory picks. 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. There are also three other conditions to be aware of when it comes to players who might have signed with other teams:
- The players who Cleveland lost need to have stuck with the other team for most of the season.
- There used to be a stipulation that players with cheap contracts, such as the veteran minimum, did not count. However, recent examples show they might be counting now if they contribute to a significant amount of playing time.
- They have to be signed during the normal free agency period (and not in August, for example).
Over the Cap provided a cancellation chart to show how the Browns lost six free agents and added one:
A player like QB Robert Griffin III does not count in the "signed" column because he was cut by his previous teams. Similarly, players like SS Donte Whitner and ILB Karlos Dansby do not count in the “lost” column, since Cleveland opted to cut them while they still had years remaining on their contract.
Because the Browns lost more players than they signed in 2016, they were eligible to receive compensatory picks for 2017. First, we need to look at the net change. The Browns lost 6 players but gained 1 players, which is a net loss of 5 players. The net "gain" needs to cancel out one of the "losses," which is done by comparing the equivalent contracts. In this case, the addition of Demario Davis cancelled out the loss of Johnson Bademosi.
Teams can only receive a maximum of four compensatory picks each year, so Cleveland was not eligible to receive a seventh-round pick for the loss of Craig Robertson. Even if there was no maximum, only 32 total compensatory picks are awarded, and Cleveland likely would’ve been dropped off of that list too.
One more detail about the Jamie Collins deal. Per OTC, if the Browns had not been awarded a 3rd round compensatory pick, then Cleveland would have given New England a regular 4th round pick in 2018. Regarding the Philly deal, if Cleveland had not been awarded a 4th round compensatory pick, then they would’ve instead parted ways with a 5th round pick.