On Monday at 4 PM, the deadline for newly signed free agents counting toward the compensatory formula expired. For the average fan, this might not mean anything significant. To those diving deep to the ins and outs of the NFL, this means the players who will count towards the compensatory formula in 2022 are locked in. Any player signed or released will no longer factor in to the equation, and any current Compensatory Free Agent would not lose their eligibility if they were to be released. Although the exact value of each player will be determined based on their playing time and accolades during the 2021 season, the starting point of players yearly salaries is known.
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 all the NFL. At this time, overthecap.com has most 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, the estimates for compensatory draft picks are based on the actual contracts signed and projected snap percentage in 2021. The factor of snaps played only applies if a player logs at least 25% of the snaps on the season on offense or defense depending on what position they play. As for kickers, they have a completely different formula which I won’t even bother with at this time. Whatever percentage of snaps a player has, those number of points gets added onto the salary ranking as long as it’s above 25%.
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.
Bud Dupree ($16.5 million/year): Third round
Matt Feiler ($7 million/year): Fifth round
Mike Hilton ($6 million/year): Sixth round
Joe Haeg ($2.3 million/year): Seventh round
For the sake of clarity, here are the players lost and gained by the Steelers who would have qualified as a CFA but their contracts were not enough:
Ola Adeniyi ($1 million/year)
James Conner ($1.75/year)*
*could move into the 7th round with an extremely large percentage of snaps played (90%+)
Miles Killebrew (Veteran salary benefit)
Kalen Ballage (Veteran salary benefit)
Rashaad Coward (Veteran salary benefit)
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. Although Golladay has the higher contract, Dupree is projected to be the top CFA based on projected number of snaps played which 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. Remember that the projections done by OTC include projecting how many snaps each player across the NFL will play in 2021, so things could easily change a little once the 2021 season has concluded.
So these are the estimates of where the Steelers currently stand when it comes to compensatory draft picks in 2022. Yes, it is just about a year away before these losses could come back to the Steelers. But if the players lost play a good amount during the 2021 season, the Steelers would be in line for two decent draft picks.