There are many factors that come into play when it comes to determining NFL compensatory draft picks. Things such as salary, playing time, and postseason awards all factor in to the value of a player when it comes to determining their compensatory value. With the regular season concluded and the selection of both the Pro Bowl and AP All-Pro teams, it is slightly more clear as to where player should fall on the cancellation chart.
The go-to reference when it comes to compensatory draft picks has to be overthecap.com (OTC) as they have helped determine a procedure to closely predict how the NFL will reward the picks. Just recently they have released their projections for where the draft choices will fall in the 2020 draft. The NFL is expected to announce the exact compensatory picks for 2020 sometime toward the end of February just before the NFL combine.
It was an up-and-down season for the Steelers when it came to their compensatory status. In order to be eligible for a pick, teams must lose more free agents than they gained in a particular off season. Going into training camp, the Steelers had lost three free agents (Le’Veon Bell, Jesse James, and L.J. Fort) and gained two (Steven Nelson and Donte Moncrief) so they were in line for a compensatory pick. But when the Philadelphia Eagles released L.J. Fort, the Steelers lost one player from the equation and were no longer eligible for any pick at all. In order to gain their pick back, the Steelers had to release one of their free-agent signings. With the terrible year Donte Moncrief was was experiencing in Pittsburgh, it just made sense to let him go.
So with the Steelers most likely back in the running for compensatory pick (more of an exclamation of that to come), they are now projected to have one of the seven estimated third-round compensatory picks. The seven picks projected by OTC or as follows:
New England (Trey Flowers)
New York Giants (Landon Collins)
New England (Trent Brown)
Seattle (Earl Thomas)
Houston (Tyrann Mathieu)
Pittsburgh (Le’Veon Bell)
Philadelphia (Nick Foles)
While this is good news for the Steelers because they should still be in line for the third-round compensatory picks, there is still a possibility they would not receive a pick at all. OTC projected the Steelers to get the pick, but they also explained how it is not definite that Donte Moncrief no longer qualifies in the compensatory formula:
While I have high confidence that all these players, among others cut before Week 10, will not qualify, two that will be specifically noted in the altering scenarios below will be Moncrief and Davis. That’s because both were claimed off waivers by the Panthers, thus spending more than 10 weeks on NFL rosters. The precedent of Martellus Bennett not qualifying in 2018 makes me believe that Moncrief and Davis will not qualify, but because that’s the only precedent I have on record, it’s safe to note what would happen if I’m wrong–and it would be bad news for Pittsburgh and/or Chicago.
What is interesting about Moncrief is that he only played in eight games in 2019. Moncrief was with the Steelers for seven games where he was only appeared in five. Moncrief logged snaps for the Carolina Panthers in three games after being claimed off waivers. The precedent set by the NFL is Moncrief would have to be on the Steelers roster through Week 10 of the season, which he was not.
What makes the Moncrief situation interesting is L.J. Fort actually appeared in 16 games in 2019 but yet is not in question when it comes to qualifying in the compensatory formula. After being cut from the Eagles after Week 4, Fort went unclaimed off waivers and signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens. Fort played in all 12 of the remaining games for the Ravens, and apparently the only reason he was not mentioned by OTC was the fact he was re-signed as a free agent and not a waiver claim.
As you can see, the compensatory formula is not something specifically outlined by the NFL. Therefore, all we fans have to go on is projections from the experts. And while it looks as if the Steelers should still be in line for their third-round selection this April, it will be about another six weeks until we can all know for sure.