Recently, an incorrect report was floating around social media about the Steelers no longer being in line for compensatory draft picks. The fact the Steelers had lost four unrestricted free agents while also gaining four is why it was concluded the Steelers would not eligible for a pick. Fortunately, things are slightly more complex when it comes to if players actually count towards the compensatory formula.
While net gains or losses in the number of players are what determines if a team gets compensatory draft picks, it’s only among qualifying players. So the question is if the Steelers have a net loss of Compensatory Free Agents (CFAs) towards the 2022 compensatory formula. As a reminder, Street Free Agents, who are players who were released by their previous team and did not have their contract expire, do not qualify as CFAs. In other words, the signing of B.J. Finney does not negatively affect the Steelers compensatory formula.
While there are other factors that will ultimately determine any compensatory draft picks the Steelers could receive in 2022, it begins with the contract the departing player signed. Looking at the yearly average, players are designated into rounds for compensation.
In order for a player to be deemed a CFA, they must fall in the top 35% of the NFL. At this time, overthecap.com has any salaries less than $2 million a season not landing in the top 35% and therefore not qualifying as a CFA. Additionally, any contract signed that qualifies for the veteran salary benefit does not qualify as a CFA.
Remember, other factors such as snaps played, All-Pro, and All-Conference selections factor into the equation once the 2021 season is complete. But for now, all estimates for compensatory draft picks are based solely on the contracts signed.
As it stands now, the Steelers would be eligible for two compensatory draft picks. Exactly where they fall is estimated as follows by overthecap.com. The projected non-qualifying TBA contracts are based on my own estimates.
Bud Dupree ($16.5 million/year): Third round
Matt Feiler ($7 million/year): Fifth round
Mike Hilton ($6 million/year): Sixth round
Ola Adeniyi (TBA): Non-qualifying (projected)
Joe Haeg ($2.3 million/year): Seventh round
Miles Killebrew (Veteran salary benefit): Non-qualifying
Kalen Ballage (TBA): Non-qualifying (projected)
Rashaard Coward (TBA): Non-qualifying (projected)
It is believed that the salaries of Ola Adeniyi in Tennessee as well as the contracts of Kalen Ballage and Rashaard Coward in Pittsburgh would not eclipse the $2 million threshold to land them in the top 35% of the NFL.
As things stand right now, Joe Haeg would cancel Mike Hilton, leaving the Steelers with a third-round and a fifth-round pick.
As the projections stand right now, Dupree is one of two estimated third-round compensatory draft pick in the NFL according to OTC with Kenny Golladay. With Dupree having the higher contract, this would land the Steelers the 97th pick in the draft if it were to continue to hold up. Matt Feiler comes in as the third of five eligible fifth-round picks at this time.
Where the Steelers’ picks fall in these rounds right now does not mean much as there is still the possibility of more free agent signings as well as players being canceled out across the NFL. The most important thing is the rounds the Steelers’ lost CFAs are estimated.
So this is where the Steelers currently stand when it comes to compensatory draft picks in 2022. Yes, it is more than a year away before these losses could come back to the Steelers. But if the Steelers continue to lose unrestricted free agents, perhaps they could still gain another pick before everything is complete.