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Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm brings you hot news and the inside scoop about the NFL.

Four teams snag third-round compensatory picks, including fortunate Giants

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Posted March 23, 2009 @ midnight
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:26 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

The Patriots lost Asante Samuel, Donte Stallworth and Randall Gay last offseason.

The Bengals lost Justin Smith, Madieu Williams and Bryan Robinson.

The Bears lost Bernard Berrian and Brendon Ayanbadejo, a Pro Bowl special teamer.

The Giants lost ... who exactly?

The NFL announced its annual allotment of compensatory picks, 32 in all to 14 different teams, on Monday, and Patriots, Bengals, Bears and Giants will pick at the end of the third round -- highly prized choices that the team must use and cannot trade.

The league uses an arcane, secret formula to determine which teams are awarded picks. Teams that sign more net free agents from the start of free agency until June 1 than they lose are not eligible to earn picks. Those who lose more players than they bring in typically earn the additional picks -- and the clubs who suffer the biggest losses earn the choicest picks.

How do they determine who loses the most? Good question.

The picks are determined based on this formula, which calculates "salary, playing time and postseason honors" according to the league. It's up for debate, especially in the Giants' case. Typically, those prime third-rounders are given to the teams who lose one big-name player and perhaps one or two others. The Giants lost Gibril Wilson, Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor and signed Danny Clark and Sammy Knight (David Carr was released, so he did not "reach" free agency, and Renaldo Wynn didn't arrive until after June 1 -- the Giants were patient to wait to sign him).

Wilson earned a hefty salary from the Raiders (thanks, Al!) and had a so-so season before being cut. Mitchell had a very solid season for the Bills. Torbor had half a sack and one start as mostly a special-teamer with the Dolphins. Explain to me how that works. In what world are those three guys worth net more than what the Patriots, Bengals and Bears lost?

Whatever the justification, the Giants now have tremendous flexibility in this draft and will be major players. Although they cannot trade the 100th overall pick (36th in Round Three), they have each of their own picks, plus second- and fifth-rounders from the Jeremy Shockey trade. GM Jerry Reese all but has said the team would trade at least one of those picks, and maybe more. Adding the third-rounder could allow them to deal their own third-round pick to a needy team that would be willing to mortgage their 2010 second-round pick. Those are the kinds of deals that shrewd GMs make when other teams get desperate.

The Patriots almost certainly will do the same kind of thing. They have made almost as many trades as any team since Bill Belichick took over, and with the extra third-rounder (plus a compensatory fifth- and sixth-rounder), the team can deal some of its own other picks -- either up in the draft to get a player they like or out of this year's crop for picks in '10.

Don't underestimate these picks. Recent compensatory picks have included Chris Horton in '08, Le'Ron McClain in '07, Antoine Bethea and Marques Colston in '06 and Leroy Hill and Derek Anderson in '05, among others. And of course, there was a guy named Tom Brady in 2000.

More interesting facts: Since 1994, when the NFL first started awarding picks, the teams that have earned the most are the Ravens with 29, followed by the Cowboys with 28 and the Eagles and Rams, each with 25. Each team has been to a Super Bowl since then.

The teams with the fewest? The Jets with five, the Texans with three (they only have been a team since 2002), and the Browns with a stunning one. That's all. No wonder they have been bad -- making poor decisions in free agency can hurt you in more than one way. Those teams have a combined four playoff wins over that stretch, three by the Jets. Coincidental, right?

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