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Re-visiting the Steelers’ projected 2020 compensatory draft pick

With contracts being set for months, the biggest factor remaining is playing time for the players lost and gained

Tennessee Titans v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

With the time period for signing players who factor into the compensatory formula for 2020 having passed over three months ago, there are still other factors which will contribute to what additional draft picks are awarded. With the number one factor being a players salary, there are still some ongoing factors which could change things up just a little bit.

Based solely on contracts, here is a reminder of where the Steelers currently stand for a 2020 compensatory draft pick according to with the projected round value in parenthesis.


Le’Veon Bell (3)

Jesse James (6)

L.J. Fort (7)


Steven Nelson (4)

Donte Moncrief (6)

Starting at the top of the arrival list, the following cancellations would be as follows:

Nelson (4) cancels James (6)

Moncrief (6) cancels Fort (7)

Bell (3) is left

A team is only eligible for a compensatory pick if there are more players lost than gained. The NFL can award a pick if a team’s losses are of significant value more than their gains, but it is at their discretion. An example would be if a team lost two third round designees and gained two seventh round contracts.

Once a team is determined they have a greater number of losses, the cancellation process begins. An added player cannot cancel someone from a higher round unless there are no players remaining. For example, a fifth round addition cannot cancel a fourth round loss unless there are no other losses to be canceled. The process always begins with the highest addition. So in the Steelers case, the fourth cancels the sixth, and the sixth cancels the seventh.

When it comes to players shifting up or down with their compensatory value, the two factors throughout the season will be playing time and postseason awards. Obviously, these factors will be something to discuss as the season goes on. But one very large factor which could greatly change the compensatory picks is if a player is released from their new team.

In regards to the players the Steelers signed, both Steven Nelson and Donte Moncrief seem to be locks to make the 53 man roster. As a quick reminder, Mark Barron does not calculate in the compensatory formula because he was released by the Rams. The compensatory system is set up to compensate teams for losing players when their contracts have expired, not when teams release a player with one or more years remaining.

As for the players the Steelers lost in the 2019 off-season, here is a quick recap of where they stand with their teams:

Le’Veon Bell

Although he did not play in Week 1 of the preseason, Bell’s contract and all of its guarantees make it where the Jets have no choice but to keep him on the roster. Bell is listed as the Jets starting running back, plus his four year, nearly $53 million contract would have too much dead money to handle. The biggest factor when it comes to Bell will be his playing time in 2019, either by choice or by injury, and if it lowers his value.

Jesse James

Signing a $22.6 million for five years with the Detroit Lions, James would carry a significant cap hit if he were to be released. If for some reason the Lions would cut ties with James, the Steelers should be calling his agent right away. The odds of James being cut are highly unlikely, especially since he is currently listed as the first tight end on the Lions depth chart ahead of rookie T.J. Hockenson. In Week 1 of the preseason, James caught his only target for a 16-yard gain.

L.J. Fort

The most likely candidate to affect the Steelers compensatory draft pick by being released would be L.J. Fort. By releasing either Fort or Andrew Sendejo, the Philadelphia Eagles could gain an additional fourth-round selection along with the third and fourth round picks they are already projected to receive. Currently, Fort is listed second on the Eagles’ depth chart at outside linebacker behind Zach Brown. Fort played in the Eagle’s Week 1 game of the preseason and logged four tackles.

In order to get a better grasp on L.J. Fort’s status, Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation had this to offer in regards to Fort’s status with the Eagles.

“L.J. Fort is having a solid camp/preseason with the Eagles. He’s actually getting some first team reps since projected starters Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill are both dealing with injuries. Bradham is expected to be ready by Week 1 but Grugier-Hill could be out until late September or early October. Fort’s presence as a veteran defender who can also contribute on special teams should allow him to stick on the 53-man roster. Not to mention the fact that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman previously called Fort a “target free agent” and backed up those words by signing Fort to a deal worth $1.9 million guaranteed.”

So as it stands at this moment, the Steelers are still projected to receive a third-round compensatory pick in the 2020 NFL draft. As factors change throughout the 2019 season, Behind The Steel Curtain will continue to update any possible developments when it comes to compensatory value regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.