Dallas Cowboys primed for four 2021 compensatory draft picks

Dallas Cowboys, NFL Draft (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys, NFL Draft (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

So far the Dallas Cowboys have lost more free agents than they have signed. This bodes well for compensatory draft picks in the 2021 draft.

The Dallas Cowboys had 32 free agents entering the 2020 league year. With the new league year underway, teams have started signing players with more than half of the free agent Cowboys finding homes for the upcoming season.

Dallas has re-signed several of their own with wide receiver Amari Cooper the biggest signing so far. Quarterback Dak Prescott received the exclusive franchise tag and has yet to sign the tender. The Cowboys also re-signed tight end Blake Jarwin, linebackers Sean Lee, Joe Thomas and Justin March,  corner Anthony Brown, safety Darian Thompson, offensive lineman Joe Looney, kicker Kai Forbath, and long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur.

But the Cowboys have seen several players leave with corner Byron Jones and defensive end Robert Quinn landing the biggest contracts. Defensive lineman Maliek Collins, tight end Jason Witten, safety Jeff Heath all signed with the Raiders. Wide receiver Randall Cobb signed with the Texans and backup offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo signed with Cincinnati.

In a small departure from previous years, Dallas signed a big name free agent early inking defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a three-year contract. The team also appears to have signed corner Maurice Canady in the more common mold – low-budget and depth.

Every year teams re-tool their roster which typically results in at least 35 percent turnover. So these moves are not out of the ordinary.

However, the bigger outflow of free agents compared to the inflow of new Cowboy free agents should help Dallas in the 2021 draft. The NFL has a secret formula to decide which teams receive compensatory draft picks but Over the Cap seems to have decoded the formula.

The Cowboys are lining up to receive the maximum four compensatory picks in 2021. Over the Cap is projecting two third round picks, a fifth and a sixth round pick for losing Jones, Quinn, Cobb and Heath with the McCoy signing offset by losing Witten.

Comparing how the 2020 compensatory picks were given indicates that the Cowboys might receive a fourth round pick rather than the fifth round pick. The Philadelphia Eagles received two 2020 compensatory fourth round picks for losing Jordan Hicks and Golden Tate.

It seems that the primary focus of the secret formula is the average per year salary (APY). End of season awards and snap count also factor into the picks distribution.

Hicks APY was $8.5 million when he signed with the Cardinals and Tate had an APY of $9.35 million when he signed with the Giants. Cobb signed for an APY of $9 million so it is very plausible that the predicted fifth round compensatory pick could be a fourth.

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It is still early in the free agency period so much can change before the 2021 draft. Watch the free agents that Dallas signs between now and early May, the date for free agent signings to qualify for the compensatory formula. Just don’t expect the Cowboys to sign many to jeopardize their projected 2021 compensatory picks.