As the Pittsburgh Steelers have progressed through the 2022 NFL offseason, it became apparent early in the league year that the Steelers were unlikely to gain a compensatory draft pick for the 2023 NFL draft due to a loss of players in free agency. Because the Steelers were so active in free agency due to having a number of needs to address for the team, worrying about receiving a compensatory draft pick this year was not a priority.
With the period to sign players where they would still qualify as compensatory free agents (CFAs) now over, the Steelers have gained four players who qualify as CFAs in James Daniels, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Cole, and Levi Wallace. The Steelers lost two players who could qualify as CFAs in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ray-Ray McCloud, but McCloud does not fall into the qualifying range of players lost based on his salary but could still end up qualifying based on playing time both for himself and others in 2022.
For those curious about the Steelers addition of Myles Jack, he was a street free agent and not an unrestricted free agent and therefore he’s not eligible to be a CFA. Additionally, the loss of James Washington to the Dallas Cowboys does not have him qualify as a CFA because he signed a veteran minimum salary benefit contract.
Once the issue of compensatory draft picks for players lost in free agency was out of the question, there has been another provision which allows compensatory draft picks which began with the 2021 NFL draft. When teams lose a minority coach or front office employee to another team, there is now a provision which awards third-round compensatory draft picks for the franchise from which the person departed.
With director of pro scouting Brandon Hunt leaving the Steelers to head to the Philadelphia Eagles, a number of Steelers’ fans have asked about receiving compensatory draft picks for Hunt. Specifically, an article from NFL.com published in March, 2022 raised the question about the issue:
Teams can also receive compensatory picks if a minority coach or executive is hired to the same or better role by a different club as a result of the league’s effort to increase diversity in hiring coaches and front-office executives.
As rules on this issue continue to expand, fans were curious as to whether or not Brandon Hunt would qualify with his role taken with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the article quoted above, there was a link to an article from NFL.com from November of 2020 which announced the specifications of a team receiving a compensatory draft pick due to the hiring in of a minority in the position of head coach or general manager.
Teams that lose a minority coach or executive to a head coach or general manager job with another team will receive a third-round compensatory pick for two consecutive years, per Pelissero. If a team loses a minority coach and an executive to HC and GM roles, that club will receive a third-round compensatory pick for three consecutive years.
According to the resolution, a team is eligible to receive draft pick compensation if the candidate in question has been “employed by the employer-club for a minimum of two years.” There can be no break in employment between teams.
While the NFL has continued to tweak various rules when it comes to minority hirings and candidates, this has not been changed since it was implemented last year. While the Rooney Rule was expanded to include coordinators, quarterback coaches, and senior level positions within the front office, this was only expanded for interviews and not for compensatory draft picks.
To understand the rule a little further, if a team loses a minority employee into the role of head coach or general manager, or the equivalent title depending on the franchise, they would receive two third-round compensatory draft picks, one each year for the next two drafts. If a team lost two minority employees to one of these positions in the same year, they would be awarded a third compensatory pick in the third year.
Another item of note from the rule is that the employee who leaves a team must have been employed for at least two consecutive years in order for that team to be eligible for compensatory draft picks. This could be of note for the Pittsburgh Steelers with their hiring a Brian Flores this past offseason. If Flores were to be hired as a head coach for 2023, the Steelers would not receive compensatory draft picks due to the length of time Flores was with the Steelers.
When it comes to Brandon hunt, his role in the Philadelphia Eagles front office has been reported as being in the scounting department and is obviously not as general manager or an equivalent title. This, along with the typical method in which the picks are awarded, is the reason the Pittsburgh Steelers will not receive any compensatory draft picks for 2023.