Cowboys awarded 4 comp picks, here’s how and where their 10 draft picks come from

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
K.D. Drummond
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

After projections have gone back and forth over the course of the season and the months that follow, the official word is in. The Dallas Cowboys have been awarded four compensatory picks for the 2021 NFL draft based on free agents lost in the 2020 offseason.

On the same day the league announced the official salary cap for the season, the draft order is now fully known. Dallas has an extra pick following the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, getting the maximum comp picks allowed as the league doles out an entire round’s worth (32) of compensatory picks to teams.

How the picks are calculated

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas was able to keep quarterback Dak Prescott via the franchise tag last year and they signed wide receiver Amari Cooper to a long-term deal, but they notably lost several players, specifically weakening their defense. Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Maliek Collins and Jeff Heath were four defensive starters who left the organization, and the signings Dallas brought in didn't come close to replacing their impact. The bright side? The maximum of four compensatory picks in April's draft. Compensatory picks are awarded based on a convoluted formula that is primarily centered around the average annual value of a free agent's contract with their new club. If a player qualifies as a compensatory free agent, their contract places them in an order. They are then placed in a ledger which is balanced by the qualifying free agents a team brings in. If a club loses more comp FA than they gain, they can receive as many as four picks in the next year's draft. The NFL awards 32 comp picks based on these transactions, all placed at the ends of rounds starting with the third and going through the seventh. Any qualifying players who extend beyond the 32-pick limit are not awarded. It essentially gives the NFL eight rounds worth of picks. This year, the NFL started awarding teams compensatory picks for grooming minority coaches and front office personnel who are hired away from other teams. That bumped up the total amount of comp picks to 36. The order is then massaged throughout the season based on how much a player participates in their team's games. Smaller influences on their comp value is placed on things such as post-season awards. Dallas' projections fluctuated throughout the season as several of their players' snap counts bounced up and down and the cutoff for the 32 picks has climbed as high as the sixth round. The comp pick for the loss of one player has danced above and below the cutoff line all year, but in the final tally, Dallas secures their fourth pick.

Byron Jones, Miami Dolphins - 3rd Round (4th best comp pick) No. 99 overall

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

APY - $16,500,000

Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears - 4th Round (7th-player based comp pick) No. 138 overall

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

APY - $14,000,000

Randall Cobb, Houston Texans - 5th Round (15th player-based comp pick), No. 178 overall

USA Today Images

APY - $9,000,000

Jeff Heath, Las Vegas Raiders - 6th round (No. 31 player-based comp pick), No. 226 overall*

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

APY - $3,375,000 * = Pick is believed to be for Heath

All 36 Comp Picks

The NFL erroneously gave San Francisco two comp picks after the third round for losing staff. That will be amended and each pick thereafter is moved up one slot.

Cowboys Comp Pick Ledger

Here is a look at all of Dallas' free agent transactions from last season, and which free agents brought in cancel free agents lost, and which ones didn't qualify for the formula.

2021 Compensatory Pick Ledger








CB Byron Jones

5 yr, $82.5M



DE Robert Quinn

5 years, $70M



WR Randall Cobb

3 yr, $27M



TE Jason Witten

1 year, $4.75M



DT Gerald McCoy

3 years, $18.3M


DT Maliek Collins

1 year, $6M



S HaHa Clinton-Dix

1 year, $4M


S Jeff Heath

2 years, $8M



OL Xavier Su'a-Filo

3 yrs, $10M



K Greg Zeurlein

3 year, $7.5M


Non-Qualifying Free Agent Moves








OL Cam Fleming

1 yr, $4M


Option not picked up

CB Maurice Canady

1 year, $950K

under threshold

DE Kerry Hyder

1 yr, $?


likely under threshold

DT Dontari Poe

2 yr, $9M

released by tm

CB Donovan Olumba

2 yr, $1.4M



TE Blake Bell

1 yr. $1.7M

under threshold

CB Saivion Smith

rlsd/under threshold

List of Cowboys total draft picks

  1. 1.10 - Own Pick

  2. 2.44 - Own Pick

  3. 3.75 - Own Pick

  4. 3.99 - Comp Pick (Byron Jones)

  5. 4.115 - Own Pick

  6. 4.138 - Comp Pick (Robert Quinn)

  7. 5.178 - Comp Pick (Randall Cobb)

  8. 6.191 - Detroit's Pick (Everson Griffen)

  9. 6.226 - Comp Pick (Jeff Heath)

  10. 7.237 - Own Pick