Last season, the Rams traded a 6th round pick (that could become a 5) for Brandon Lloyd. At the time, Lloyd was in the last year of his deal, and there was a very good possibility that he was going to walk in free agency following the season. The trade was lauded by NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi, who noted that at the end of the season, Lloyd was likely to get a huge deal somewhere and the Rams would be awarded a 3rd round compensatory pick in return.
Lombardi’s thinking, however, ignored one very important detail on how compensatory picks are awarded. In terms of being awarded picks for losing players, for every player you sign in free agency, that cancels out a player lost. Lloyd did indeed wind up signing a decent deal with the Patriots (3 years, $12 million), but the Rams also signed a large number of free agents that will cancel out the players they lost:
- Cortland Finnegan: 5 years, $50 million
- Kendall Langford: 4 years, $24 million
- Scott Wells: 4 years, $24 million
- Steve Smith: 1 year, $2.5 million
- Jo-Lonn Dunbar: 2 years, $3.05 million
As a result, the Rams are highly unlikely to be awarded any compensatory picks next season.
Mike Jenkins is in a similar situation in Dallas. As we all know, Jenkins has one year left on his deal, and is unhappy that he has essentially gone from the best CB on the team to 4th in the pecking order in one offseason. There has been recent debate on whether or not the Cowboys should trade him, and there’s a thinking that if the Cowboys simply hold onto him and then lose him in free agency, they’ll be awarded a high compensatory pick. A number of Cowboys writers are falling into the same trap as Lombardi.
The difficulty in trading Jenkins is that every other team knows it. The Cowboys are not dealing from a position of strength. At the moment, it makes more sense for the club to hold onto Jenkins as insurance and recoup part of his value at the end of the season through a compensatory pick.
The Cowboys could probably get a late-round pick for Jenkins, like the seventh-rounder the Falcons sent the Eagles for Asante Samuel. Why take that when the Cowboys will likely get a mid-round compensatory pick after Jenkins signs elsewhere in free agency?
The Cowboys will not trade Jenkins unless the price is right. Anything less than a 2nd rounder might not bode well, especially considering Jenkins is still young, and only counts approximately $1million against the cap this year. At the very worst, when Jenkins leaves in free agency next year, the Cowboys will be awarded a 4th round compensatory selection.
If the Cowboys hang onto Jenkins for the 2012 season and then lose him to free agency, all of the above writers are sending the message that a compensatory pick is pretty much a sure thing, but that’s not the reality. The reality is that they might receive a compensatory pick in 2014… but only if they lose more players than they sign.