Dallas Cowboys 2016 Draft Pick Picture Comes Into Focus With Greg Hardy's Return

As we continue on the bye week, it's time to check on the Cowboys draft haul after a series of off-season and in-season moves affect the big picture.

Knee-deep in the bye week, it’s as good a time as any to check on the Dallas Cowboys and their projected 2016 draft haul. There are still almost three weeks remaining prior to the 2015 Trade Deadline (4 pm ET, November 3rd), so things may still change, but for now, here’s a tally of what fans can expect the team to have in their cache heading into next offseason.

First things first, an update on Compensatory picks is warranted. When CowboysHQ last visited the subject, Greg Hardy’s suspension was still scheduled to last 10 games. With it reduced to four, his projected salary escalated, and after his first game it’s also becoming fair to assume he has a legitimate shot at earning his performance bonuses.

Here’s a refresher on how his contract works. Hardy received $750,000 in base salary, which is divided into 17 weekly installments for the 17 weeks of the season. Since he was suspended for four games without pay, Hardy makes 13/17th of that, or $573,529.

In lieu of a signing bonus on his one-year deal, Hardy received a workout bonus of $1,311,600. That is believed to have been paid in full due to his participation in the offseason work.

Hardy, with his suspension unknown at the time of signing the deal, agreed to be paid up to 16 weekly roster bonuses that could total $9,250,000. If Hardy is on the 53-Man roster for a week, he earns $578,125. Barring a new suspension or trip to the IR, Hardy should be on the roster for 12 games, totaling $6,937,500.

For now, that brings Hardy’s 2015 salary to: ($6,937,500 + $1,311,600 + $573,529) = $8,822,629.

Not currently counting against the cap, but counting towards his total compensation and what figures into the compensatory pick calculation are the performance bonuses. Hardy will earn between $500k and $1.8m for logging eight sacks or more. For the purposes of calculating compensatory picks for 2016 though, this is irrelevant. Here’s why.

Compensatory picks are determined based on a formula shrouded in mystery that’s been partially unlocked by several people smarter than the author of this article. At the base of that formula is the concept of “Team A lost more players in Free Agency than they signed”. Each player, based on salary, playing time and post-season awards, is assigned a “level of compensation”, equal to an additional pick at the end of one of rounds 3-7.

Here’s CowboysHQ’s projections of where those medians lie for the 2016 draft, based on a $153,000,000 2016 cap and the percentages calculated by OverTheCap.com’s Nick Kourte:

2016 Projected on $153m cap
3RD/4TH $9,562,500.00
4TH/5TH $7,175,700.00
5TH/6TH $4,788,900.00
6TH/7TH $3,182,400.00

On top of salary concerns, not every free agent signed or lost qualifies for compensatory consideration. There are ways to sign players that won’t add to the “players signed” ledger. Players who are cut from other teams, players who were RFAs or ERFAs who weren’t tendered, players signed after May 12th. This eliminates losing Sterling Moore, and signing Corey White from the calculations. 

Also, the player must stay with his new team through Week 10 of the next season to qualify. That means that losing Anthony Spencer no longer qualifies, but neither does signing Jasper Brinkley or Jed Collins, who together count over $1.4 million towards Dallas’ 2015 salary cap as dead money.

Of the players remaining, here’s the chart of Dallas’ Comp Pick haul:

Player LostContractAPYRound Player SignedContractAPYRound
Demarco Murray 5 yr/ $42 million $8.4m 4th x Greg Hardy 1 yr/ $9.8m $9.82 3rd
Jermey Parnell 5 yr/ $32 million $6.4m 4th AWARD        
Bruce Carter 4 yr/ $17 million $4.25m 6th AWARD        
Henry Melton 1 yr/$3.75 million $3.75m 6th AWARD        
Justin Durant 3 yr/ $10.8 million $3.6m 6th AWARD        
Dwayne Harris 5 yr/ $17.5 million $3.5m 6th x Andrew Gachkar 2 yrs/$5.2m $2.6m 6th
George Selvie 1 yr/ $1.4 million $1.4m 7th x Darren McFadden 2 yr/$3m $1.5m 7th

That gives Dallas an additional four selections in the upcoming draft. However, Dallas has already used several of their “natural” picks as trade collateral.

In acquiring the right to select TE Geoff Swaim with pick number 246 of the 2015 draft, Dallas traded away their 2016 sixth-round selection. Right before the season, Dallas traded away their seventh-round pick for RB Christine Michael to Seattle, on condition he be active for three games. That third game will be against New York. Pretty sure he’s going to stick.

Then, when Dez Bryant went down in Week One, the Cowboys traded for WR Brice Butler with Oakland. If Butler remains on the 53 man roster through the Seattle game, Dallas will ship their 2016 5th rounder to Oakland and get back Oakland’s 6th rounder. Dallas has shipped away their 5th, 6th and 7th rounders.

So all in all, here’s the current, final tally for Cowboys draft picks in 2016:

RoundOriginal TeamCurrent Team
1 Cowboys  
2 Cowboys  
3 Cowboys  
4 Cowboys  
4 Compensatory  
6 Oakland Cowboys
6 Compensatory  
6 Compensatory  
6 Compensatory


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