(KSDK Sports) -- The Rams were awarded three compensatory picks in this year's NFL draft Monday, but there remains a major question why running back Steven Jackson was not included among the players lost by the Rams or players added by the Atlanta Falcons.
Rams sources were unsure early Tuesday if it was merely an omission by the NFL or if Jackson was not included in the formula that determines how many and what picks are awarded. Analyzing the picks the Rams and Falcons received, it appears Jackson was not included, and that is a mystery.
It is true that Jackson did not become an unrestricted free agent in usual fashion. Unlike most players whose contracts simply expire, the final year of Jackson's deal was voided by the player. However, Jackson was included in the list of unrestricted free agents the league circulated at the start of the 2013 league year. And, when he signed with the Falcons in mid-March, according to league sources, his addition on the league personnel wire was listed under the category of unrestricted free agents.
Players released by a team do not count in the compensatory pick system, but Jackson wasn't cut.
Teams are awarded compensatory choices when they lose more free agents than they gained, and the formula assigns picks based on contract value and playing time/performance.
The Rams received a sixth-round pick and two seventh-round picks for losing wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, safety Craig Dahl and center/guard Robert Turner, while adding tight end Jared Cook and tackle Jake Long.
The Falcons received a fourth-round pick and two seventh-round choices for losing cornerback Brent Grimes, quarterback Luke McCown, cornerback Christopher Owens, tackle Will Svitek and defensive tackle Vance Walker. Atlanta's one signing was defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
It would seem the Falcons might have received less valuable picks had Jackson been included.
Howard Balzer hosts "H and Friends" Monday-Friday from 9-11 on Fox Sports 1490 The Champ. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL Radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.