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Buffalo Bills compensatory picks: 2016 free agency explainer

Here's what you need to know as free agency begins to keep track of how many compensatory picks the Buffalo Bills might receive in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The NFL's compensatory draft pick formula is easily one of the most difficult offseason story lines to follow for even the most ardent of league observers. Here's a quick rundown of where the Buffalo Bills stand in the compensatory pick formula as 2016 free agency kicks into high gear.

As of the time that this post was published, the Bills have not signed any qualifying compensatory free agents from other clubs (re-signing their own players does not count against them), while they have lost two qualifying compensatory free agents of their own to the Philadelphia Eagles: linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerback Ron Brooks.

In order to receive one or more compensatory draft picks, a team needs to first have a net loss of qualifying free agents through the course of the offseason. Once net loss is confirmed, a muddled set of factors - including contract size, playing time, and even postseason accolades - determine the value of the compensatory pick(s) that team would receive.

According to, which trends pretty well in terms of predicting compensatory picks for teams, the Bills would be in line to receive a seventh-round pick for the Brooks departure, while the value of Bradham's pick isn't known due to his contract parameters not being public knowledge. That would be the case only if the Bills didn't lose any more unrestricted free agents this offseason, and if they didn't sign any of their own.

Those picks would be for the 2017 NFL Draft, not this year's; those picks will be announced later this month, and are based on 2015 free agency.

Why don't other players who have signed elsewhere, like Mario Williams and Leodis McKelvin, count? Because the Bills released them. Players whose contracts were terminated are not a part of the league's compensatory pick formula, so the Bills can lose them (or sign them) without affecting this conversation at all.

To finish this off, here's a rundown of every Bills free agent transaction made so far this offseason, and whether or not it counts against the compensatory pick formula.

Compensatory UFA signings

COUNT in comp pick formula


Compensatory UFA departures

COUNT in comp pick formula
  • LB Nigel Bradham (Eagles)
  • CB Ron Brooks (Eagles)

Unsigned compensatory UFA

COUNT in comp pick formula
  • QB Josh Johnson
  • WR Percy Harvin
  • WR Leonard Hankerson
  • DL Alex Carrington

Released players

DO NOT COUNT in comp pick formula
  • RB Boobie Dixon
  • OG Kraig Urbik
  • DE Mario Williams (Dolphins)
  • CB Leodis McKelvin (Eagles)

Unsigned, tendered RFA

DO NOT COUNT in comp pick formula
  • WR Chris Hogan
  • OT Jordan Mills
  • DL Corbin Bryant

Unsigned, non-tendered RFA

DO NOT COUNT in comp pick formula
  • RB Cierre Wood
  • TE MarQueis Gray
  • DL Stefan Charles
  • LB Ty Powell
  • S Bacarri Rambo

Re-signed players

DO NOT COUNT in comp pick formula
  • RB Mike Gillislee
  • WR Greg Salas
  • OT Cordy Glenn
  • OG Richie Incognito
  • CB Mario Butler
  • P Colton Schmidt

Reserve/Future signings

DO NOT COUNT in comp pick formula
  • RB James Wilder, Jr.
  • WR Jarrett Boykin
  • WR Greg Little
  • TE Blake Annen
  • TE Jacob Maxwell
  • OG Ronald Patrick
  • OG Cyril Richardson
  • ER Cedric Reed
  • CB Javier Arenas
  • S Jonathan Dowling
  • S Phillip Thomas