The Bengals may be the best NFL club when it comes to stockpiling compensatory draft picks. Cincinnati rarely signs big external free agents, and it doesn't mind letting overpaid free agents walk, knowing that compensatory draft picks will help the team maintain one of football's deepest rosters.
Quite a few Bengals players left in free agency, and even more players could end up leaving. Marvin Jones took a nice offer in Detroit, where he'll team up with Golden Tate to form one of the NFL's most intriguing wide receiving duos. As a result of Jones skipping town, the Bengals will likely earn a fourth-round 2017 draft pick. Over the Cap projects this pick to be the third fourth-round compensatory selection, which likely guarantees Jones' departure giving the Bengals a fourth-rounder.
Mohamed Sanu's exit gives the Bengals what is currently projected as the first fifth-round compensatory selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Cincinnati's selection could end up falling a few slots, but the compensatory pick given for Sanu's departure all but guarantees an additional fifth-round selection for the Bengals.
Finally, Emmanuel Lamur's reuniting with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota could potentially grant the Bengals an additional seventh-round draft pick. Considering how the Bengals' pick rewarded for losing Lamur is currently slated as an early seventh round compensatory pick, it's highly unlikely Cincinnati loses this pick. In fact, it's entirely possible Cincinnati's pick could be elevated to a sixth-rounder if a team holding a compensatory pick signs another free agent. I'll get to the details on that later.
Here's how Cincinnati's 2017 compensatory picks currently look. However, if Reggie Nelson or Leon Hall sign for enough money, the Bengals' seventh-round pick could end up being a fifth-round or sixth-round pick, assuming either player signs for $4 million or more, an unlikely scenario. Keep in mind that these picks come at the end of each draft round, so the first compensatory pick of the fifth round would really be the 33rd pick of that respective round, at best as there will likely be other teams getting comp picks in the round, too. Because of this, Cincinnati would potentially be able to sign an external free agent for $3 million APR or less and not lose a compensatory pick, assuming Nelson or Hall sign for more than Lamur. Though, the compensatory pick formula is not exactly known and there are some loopholes.
|Qualifying UFAs Lost: 4||Qualifying UFAs Gained: 0|
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Several big-name free agents have yet to sign, which will likely play a big part in how these compensatory picks pan out. For example, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is in high demand, and his signing elsewhere could give the Jets a pick as high as the third round. Other teams could lose potential compensatory picks if they sign additional free agents.
These signings would knock Cincinnati's picks down the draft board, but different circumstances could lead to Cincinnati's picks moving back up in the order. For example, the Rams' signing of Coty Sensabaugh essentially negated a fourth-round compensatory pick initially rewarded for Rodney McLeod's departure, meaning that all of Cincinnati's compensatory selections will move forward one spot. The Broncos, Dolphins, Rams, Chiefs, Seahawks, Browns, Colts, 49ers, Cardinals, Packers, Patriots and Bills all hold compensatory selections higher than the Bengals' anticipated selection as a result of losing Emmanuel Lamur. If any of these teams sign a player on the market, the Bengals' picks will become more valuable.
However, there's good news for the Bengals. With the potential of Reggie Nelson signing elsewhere, considering the Bengals have reportedly moved on from him, the team's fourth compensatory could appreciate in value. Nelson could sign a contract worth just under five million, according to his contract projections. That could also give Cincinnati a fifth-round or sixth-round pick, depending on the contract.
With players like Robert Griffin, Arian Foster, Anquan Boldin, Nick Fairley, Greg Hardy, Karlos Dansby and others still on the market, these picks are highly subject to change. But Cincinnati's odds of landing four compensatory selections in the 2017 draft are very good.