Cleveland Browns: Compensatory picks in the AFC North in 2022
Compensatory draft picks are earned if your team loses more coaches plus free agents than they sign. The theory is that the draft picks make up for the losses the team incurs due to free agency.
If your team loses a high-priced guy who was a high draft pick, your team is awarded a draft pick up to the third round. Losing a lower-priced player who was originally from the mid-rounds means your team could be awarded a sixth or seventh-round pick. The exact formula is secret, but only 32 compensatory picks are awarded, a year after the free agents leave.
The Baltimore Ravens lost coach David Culley (Texans); linemen Matt Judon (Patriots), Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders), and Jihad Ward (Jaguars). They gained wideout Sammy Watkins. The net loss is one coach plus two players (3-1=2) and translates to a third-round pick and two fourth-round picks.
The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to qualify for two compensatory picks, one in Round 3 and one in Round 5 because they lost three qualifying players and added one, for a net of two. Their losses were outside linebacker Bud Dupree (Titans), offensive lineman Matt Feiler (Chargers), and defensive back Mike Hilton (Bengals).
They added offensive tackle Joe Haeg. However, they also traded for Ahkello Witherspoon, after Seattle signed him as a free agent. Dave Schofield of Behind the Steel Curtain believes that he would cancel a compensatory pick. It is hard to know for certain since the NFL keeps the exact formula a secret, but Schofield’s argument certainly appeals to common sense. Now, when did common sense have anything to do with the NFL rulebook in general, and especially the compensatory free agent rules?
The Cincinnati Bengals get one compensatory pick. Although they added four free agents (defensive end Trey Hendrickson; former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi; cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton), they lost five: defensive end Carl Lawson (Jets); receivers A.J. Green (Cardinals) and John Ross (Giants); cornerback William Jackson III (Washington) and fullback Cethan Carter (Dolphins).
Cleveland, who at one point had a $59 million salary cap carryover, has continued to spend that down on questionable free agents for Super Bowl runs that have not quite materialized.
So, the rest of the AFC North will sign five or possibly six NFL draft picks. But the Browns generate no picks from departing players.