The highest is a third-round pick, which will be pick No. 100 overall. The next will be a fifth-round pick at No. 170 overall. There will be two seventh-round selections at No. 252 and 253 overall.
The Bengals are getting these due to a major offseason overhaul in 2017, as Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Domata Peko, Rex Burkhead, Margus Hunt and Karlos Dansby all left in free agency. That had Cincinnati projected to score four compensatory picks in the 2018 draft, according to Over The Cap.
The Bengals could have scored more compensatory picks had they not signed any free agents in 2017. Because Andre Smith was signed last offseason as an unrestricted free agent following his one-year stint in Minnesota, his addition was projected to negate a sixth-round compensatory pick the Bengals would have received for losing Burkhead to the New England Patriots.
The addition of linebacker Kevin Minter was projected to negate the loss of Peko to the Denver Broncos, which also would have been worth a sixth-round pick.
In case you need a refresher, compensatory picks are draft selections awarded to NFL teams who lose qualifying free agents in the prior offseason. Free agents lost in 2017 turn into compensatory picks in 2018.
Salary and playing time are big factors that go into deciding the exact value and placement of a compensatory selection, though the exact formula the NFL uses is still unknown.
You’re probably wondering why Whitworth is only netting Cincinnati a fifth-round pick, despite having a contract and playing time that is worthy of a third-round pick. The reason is when a player leaves a team in free agency after 10-plus years, the compensatory pick is limited to being a fifth rounder, at best.
The same logic holds true for Peko, though he gets canceled out by the signing of Minter.