Last week, we went over how the NFL's compensatory picks work and predicted the Bengals would not receive any in 2016. This prediction proved true today as the NFL announced which teams will be receiving compensatory picks in 2016.
2016 NFL Compensatory draft picks:
You can see which players counted toward the compensatory picks here.
The Browns will certainly need their extra three draft picks with the amount of players they've already lost this year in free agency. Baltimore was also awarded three picks and Pittsburgh was awarded one.
This news also confirms that the Bengals will only have seven draft picks in 2015, the least they've had in quite a few years. That could change if the Bengals make a trade on (or before) draft day. The only player the Bengals had a chance to receive a compensatory pick for was Marshall Newhouse, who's now on the Giants, but it appears there were 33 more deserving picks to be awarded. Last year, the Bengals had two compensatory picks with which they picked P.J. Dawson in round 3 and Marcus Hardison in round 5. Those picks were due to Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins' departures to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ironically, Johnson returned to the Bengals in 2015, the same year they got that comp pick.
Compensatory picks are compensation for losing qualifying unrestricted free agents through free agency. The more you lose in free agency, in terms of number of quality of players, the more compensation you receive in draft picks for the following year. The players the Bengals lose in free agency this year count toward compensatory picks for the 2017 NFL Draft.
The draft has 32 compensatory picks sprinkled in (though this year, it's 33, likely due to the Chiefs' lost draft pick for tampering with Jeremy Maclin's contract in the 2015 offseason), distributed at the ends of rounds 3 through 7. The formula the NFL uses to award these picks is top secret, but it is set up so that a team is compensated to offset losing more and/or better free agents than they added during the prior offseason.
Generally, an unrestricted free agent who was not released by his previous team, and signed during the free agency period counts toward the compensation equation. There are additional factors regarding the loss of restricted free agents, and injury settlements that are factored in, but, a free agent will typically count as a compensatory free agent if they leave their previous team and become a starter on their new team.
Historically, compensatory draft picks have been untradeable. But beginning with the 2017 NFL draft that will change.