The months upon months of speculation have finally come to a close as the Pittsburgh Steelers were awarded one fourth-round compensatory draft pick based on 2021 free agency. This according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
NFL’s 2022 compensatory draft picks: pic.twitter.com/63A2hcjufR— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2022
Officially the 138th pick in the draft, the Steelers will now have seven picks in the 2022 draft. The Steelers first three selections will all be their regularly awarded picks while the three of the final four will be as a result of the compensatory process or trade. The Steelers traded away their fourth-round pick in last year’s draft to the Miami Dolphins in order to pick Isaiahh Loudermilk in the fifth round. The Steelers 2022 fifth-round draft pick was traded to the New York Jets for Avery Williamson and the Steelers received their seventh-round draft pick. The Steelers sixth-round draft pick was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for Joe Schobert and the Steelers received a conditional sixth-round draft pick from the Kansas City Chiefs. Whether the pick the Steelers received was the Chiefs original selection or a pick they received from the Baltimore Ravens has not yet been determined. The Steelers also have their original seventh-round pick.
In order to gain their compensatory pick in 2022, the Steelers had a net loss of one qualifying Compensatory Free Agents (CFAs) from 2021. According to the projections at overthecap.com, the Steelers could have had been awarded two selections with the second falling in the fifth round if Joe Haeg would have not passed the 25% threshold of snaps played. Instead, he factored as a CFA gained and cancelled the pick.
To remind everyone how the compensatory formula works, teams are only eligible for a draft pick if they have lost more qualifying CFAs than they gained. For example, the Steelers lost three CFAs yet only gained two who qualified. The signing of a player such as Miles Killebrew was not for a high enough salary to qualify as a CFA (within the top 35% of the league), much like the loss of James Conner did not qualify due to his salary. Also, Alejandro Villanueva signed his contract with the Baltimore Ravens and did not factor into the equation.
The three qualifying free agent losses the Steelers had in 2021 were Bud Dupree, Matt Feiler, and Mike Hilton. The Steelers CFA net gains were Joe Haeg and they inherited Ahkello Witherspoon’s compensatory status when they acquired him via trade. The pick the Steelers received was from the loss of Bud Dupree to the Tennessee Titans where he signed a 5-year, $82.5 million contract. Had Dupree not suffered multiple injuries and played a greater number of snaps, he likely would have qualified as a third-round selection.
The compensatory free agents lost and gained in 2021 by the clubs that will receive compensatory picks in the 2022 Draft: pic.twitter.com/J3CnbpeXwA— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2022
Only time will tell if the Steelers were able to turn the departure of their unrestricted free agents in 2021 into something substantial. For now, it is the 138th selection in the 2022 NFL draft. Whether it is used for trade or for a selection, it could be several seasons until we see how much the Steelers benefit from the additional pick.