The months upon months of speculation have finally come to a close as the Pittsburgh Steelers were awarded a third-round compensatory draft pick based on 2019 free agency.
Officially the 102nd pick in the draft, the Steelers will now have a selection in the third-round as they traded their original selection to the Denver Broncos as part of the trade during the 2019 draft to move up to select Devin Bush. Already missing their first-round pick due to the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers also gave up a fifth-round selection in the 2020 draft to Miami but received an additional fourth-round pick from the Dolphins. This extra pick is either the Dolphins original pick or the one they received from the Tennessee Titans.
The path to receiving the third-round compensatory draft pick was quite tumultuous for the Steelers. In order to receive a pick, a team must lose more players in free agency that it gains. The Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell, Jesse James, and L.J. Fort. In signing Steven Nelson and Donte Moncrief (Mark Barron did not count because he was released by his previous team), the Steelers were in line to receive a pick which appeared to be in the third round. But when the Philadelphia Eagles released Fort, the Steelers dropped out of the compensatory formula as they did not have a net loss in players. In order to get back on the right side of the equation, the Steelers released Donte Moncrief before the Week 10 deadline and were back in line for a selection.
Had Moncrief produced anywhere close to the results he was expected to in 2019, the Steelers may not of had the selection as it would have been in their best interest to keep a productive player. But with Moncrief‘s struggles in holding onto the ball and only having four total receptions, it was an easy decision for the Steelers to move on.
So now the compensatory chain begins to see who the Steelers select with their draft pick which came via the departure of Le’Veon Bell. As I outlined last year, the Steelers turned free agent acquisition Keyaron Fox in 2008 into the eventual selection of James Conner in the 2017 draft.
Only time will tell if the Steelers were able to turn the departure of their unrestricted free agents in 2019 into something substantial. For now, it is the 102nd selection in the 2020 NFL draft. Whether it is used for trade or for a selection, it will probably be several seasons until we see how everything plays out.