They waited until the last possible minute, but the Dallas Cowboys did indeed save their future fourth-round compensatory pick by releasing WR Deonte Thompson on Friday.
This move has been something on the radar for two months, as Thompson’s role with the club has been sporadic at best. He is primarily a kick returner in a league which has essentially forced returns out of the game for safety purposes, and the ninth-year player was buried on the depth chart behind receivers with higher upside.
Dallas will activate WR Noah Brown to fill Thompson’s spot.
The addition of Amari Cooper via trade two weeks ago sealed Thompson’s fate.
The former Bill, Bear and Raven had been brought in during free agency in late March to be a speed element to the Cowboys offense, after losing Brice Butler.
Thompson failed to establish himself as a real threat for the offense, although he was active for every game of the season. His time in Dallas ends with just 14 receptions for 124 yards and no touchdowns, just a 8.9 yards-per-reception average.
Cooper is a similar speedster who always sports top-notch route-running skills to match the flares. Also behind fellow free agent Allen Hurns, rookie Michael Gallup and slot receiver Cole Beasley, Thomspon was fifth on the depth chart.
Brown, who was the Cowboys’ best run-blocking wideout last season, was placed on IR to start the year, meaning he had to miss at least eight games before he could be activated. That expired in Monday’s loss to Tennessee, which was coincidentally Thompson’s most productive game of the season.
It was hardly enough to save his spot, when so much could be gained by his release.
Compensatory picks, awarded about a month before the draft, are determined by a complicated formula of players gained and lost in free agency the prior year. The Cowboys have a couple question marks whether or not losing CB Bene’ Benwikere to the Cardinals will count as a qualifying lost player or not.
The only way to ensure they lost more than they gained was by releasing Thompson. Players have to stick with their new club for 10 weeks in order to qualify for the formula.
Tentative 2019 Compensatory Pick Ledger
|PLAYER LOST||CONTRACT||APY||ROUND||PLAYER SIGNED||CONTRACT||APY|
|Anthony Hitchens||4 yrs / $45M||$9M||4th|
|? Bene Benwikere ?|
|PLAYER LOST||CONTRACT||APY||REASON||PLAYER SIGNED||CONTRACT||REASON|
|Dez Bryant||N/A||N/A||Released by DAL||Deonte Thompson||1 yr / $1.8M||$1.8M, released before Week 10|
|Orlando Scandrick||2 yrs / $7M||$3.5M||Released by DAL||Allen Hurns||2 yrs / $12M*||Released by JAX|
|Keth Smith||2 yrs / $4.2M*||$2.1M||Non-tendered RFA||Joe Thomas||2 yrs / $3.325M||Non-tendered RFA|
|Marcus Martin||1 yr / $880k||$880k: Vet Minimum Benefit with 0 snaps|
Now that Thompson is off the roster, the fourth-round pick for losing Anthony Hitchens to the Kansas City Chiefs is locked in. If Benwikere’s playing time continues to be high as a starter for Arizona, Dallas could end up with a fourth and a seventh-round comp pick come April.
Players who are released from an active contract do not qualify for the comp pick formula, neither do players who were restricted free agents but not tendered one-year deals. Players signed to veteran minimum benefit deals do not normally qualify unless they play a ridiculous number of snaps. Martin, on IR since the preseason won’t reach that threshold, but Benwikere could in the desert.