The date used to be two weeks after the NFL draft. But with the new CBA in effect for the 2020 season, any unrestricted free agent who now signs with an NFL team will not count in the compensatory formula. The player will not count as a loss for their previous team, nor will they count as a gain for their new team.
Why is this important to NFL teams, particularly the Steelers? If there is a free urgent still on the market which the Steelers give a qualifying offer, it will not affect the compensatory formula for the 2021 draft.
So does this mean the Steelers are set with their compensatory pics for 2021? Not exactly. It is possible a situation much like 2019 could occur for Pittsburgh. Last season, the Steelers went from having a net loss which would give them a compensatory pick to having even losses and gains when the Philadelphia Eagles released L.J. Fort. Even though Fort was picked up by another team, it did not matter because the compensatory deadline had passed. In order for the Steelers to get the selection in which they selected Alex Highsmith in the 2020 NFL draft, they had to release Donte Moncrief before the end of Week 10 of 2019.
The way it stands for the Steelers right now for the 2021 draft, they have a net loss of three players and could be in line for three compensatory draft picks. With the loss of Artie Burns and the gain of Stefen Wisniewski not having contracts high enough to qualify in the compensatory formula, the Steelers have lost five qualifying players while gaining only two.
According to overthecap.com the Steelers net losses are:
Javon Hargrave ($13 M per year, 4th round)
Sean Davis ($4 M per year, 6th round)
B.J. Finney ($4 M per year, 6th round)
Tyler Matakevich ($3.575 M per year, 7th round)
Nick Vannett ($2.85 M per year, 7th round)
The Steelers net gains are:
Eric Ebron ($6 M per year, 6th round)
Derek Watt ($3.25 M per year, 7th round)
By canceling equal rounds, Ebron would cancel Davis while Watt would cancel Matakevich. What remains would be the Steelers being eligible for a fourth round, sixth round, and seventh round selection in 2021. A seventh round selection is not guaranteed to occur as they will only be 32 compensatory picks awarded and right now there are more than 40 eligible selections across the NFL.
There could be some adjustments to players rankings based on achievements and actual salary earned. If Javon Hargrave makes the Pro Bowl or has other awards in 2020, his value could potentially bump into the third round. On the other hand, Sean Davis may not earn all of the incentives in his contract which could drop him out of the sixth round. Of course, if any of these players are released prior to Week 10 of this coming season, they will no longer count in the equation.
The most important thing is that now the deadline has passed, no players can be added to the gains for the Steelers. Even if they were to go out and sign a free agent to a large contract, it would not affect the process at all.