Welcome to the path to compensation... "Typically for the Dolphins, the first few days of free agency mean big contracts, excitement that seldom leads to meaningful results in autumn and whispers about whether the Dolphins might have overpaid. The second week of March this year? It’s all about restraint, sticking to the plan and two very important words: Compensatory picks! Per NFL rules, teams can be awarded anywhere from one to as many as four total compensatory picks, from the third round through the seventh, for teams that lose more or better compensatory free agents than they sign. And the Dolphins already have positioned themselves to pick up, potentially, a third-round pick in the 2020 draft after the Denver Broncos gave Ja’Wuan James a four-year, $51 million deal. That’s provided the Dolphins don’t sign a free agent to a similarly lucrative contract. Additional picks could be added for losing Frank Gore (to Buffalo) and Cam Wake (not expected back) and the cumulative effect of losing other lower-profile free agents who remain unsigned, including Sam Young, Stephone Anthony, Brock Osweiler, William Hayes, Brandon Bolden, Ziggy Hood and Sylvester Williams, among others. But all this comes with one caveat: The Dolphins must sign fewer free agents than they lose, particularly pricey free agents who are expected to play a lot. And here’s the key: Players released, as opposed to free agents whose contracts are naturally expiring, do not count in the formula. So the Dolphins aren’t penalized for signing tight end Dwayne Allen, who was released by the Patriots. But the Dolphins also won’t benefit from Danny Amendola signing with the Lions because he was released by Miami from an existing contract. Same goes for Andre Branch and Ted Larsen when they eventually find teams, and potentially Ryan Tannehill and Robert Quinn, who remained under contract to the Dolphins as of 6 p.m. Tuesday but aren’t expected back."