Details of Chidobe Awuzie’s deal with Bengals, comp pick implications

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K.D. Drummond
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Early on Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys lost their first high-value free agent when cornerback Chidobe Awuzie agreed to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals. The three-year deal sent the starter for 42 of a possible 64 games to the AFC, and leaves an expected void in the rotation at the position. Dallas will look to fill that void in free agency and more than likely the draft.

Meanwhile, the club got another piece in their future-building puzzle with the announcement of the terms of Awuzie’s deal. As an unrestricted out-of-contract free agent, Awuzie already was going to figure into the compensatory formula. The terms of the deal indicate he will slot in at the fifth-round compensatory level after signing a three-year pact for an average of $7.5 million a season with $9.25 million in Year 1.

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While comp picks also take into considering playing time in the first year of a contract, the average value is the biggest piece. In the 2021 draft, 2020 free agents who earned an average between $6.5 million and $10 million were worth fifth rounders as compensation. That may decrease with the lower salary cap in 2021, as it dropped from $198.2 million to $182.5 million thanks to the pandemic and lost revenue.

The Cowboys are also in line for a sixth-round comp pick (depending on who they sign) based on losing OT Cam Erving to the Panthers. QB Andy Dalton, CB Jourdan Lewis and safety Xavier Woods are all expected to be part of a formula that could result in as many as four extra picks for the team. Joe Thomas’ one-year deal with the Texans is a qualifying deal that will be below the threshold of awarding a pick. The contracts for Ty Nsekhe and Jake McQuaide will factor into the formula as well.

This year Dallas received four picks for losing Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Randall Cobb and Jeff Heath in last year’s offseason.

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