The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason is coming to a close as in five weeks training camp will be kicking off and the preseason will be in full effect. Until that time, there are no team activities and only a few other details the Steelers need to address.
While a contract extension for Alex Highsmith has been the topic of discussion for some time, it isn’t necessary to occur before training camp. But a very important item that must come about before the Steelers report to Latrobe is the signing of the remaining three players from the 2023 NFL draft class. Unlike OTAs, any players who have not signed their contract are not allowed to participate in training camp.
While the Steelers have already signed four of their draft picks, their top three selections of Broderick Jones, Joey Porter Jr., and Keanu Benton are still unsigned at this time. Although this may cause some concern among Steelers fans, now is not the time to panic. Here are three reasons why it’s not a huge concern that the Steelers still have these players unsigned.
There’s not much to negotiate
With the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the rookie wage scale has taken most of the negotiations off the table. The amount a player is paid is based on their draft position with very few other items open for negotiation. The exact breakdown of bonuses is one thing that can fluctuate, and the amount of guaranteed money can sometimes be a sticking point. Additionally, whether a player has a split contract when it comes to them going on the Reserve/Injured List is another issue. But when it comes to pay, the totals are already set so the two sides cannot be very far apart.
It’s not that late
Even though we are approaching the end of June, it’s not that late when it comes to the Steelers not signing their draft picks. Last year, the Steelers signed first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett, their final draft pick to sign, on Thursday, July 23, 2022. So right now we are right around the window to get things finished up.
They are not alone
When it comes to determining certain things within an NFL contract, a lot of times it comes down to other players drafted in a similar position. When it comes to the Steelers picks that have not signed, they also have players drafted around them who have yet to sign.
Looking at the players in order, Broderick Jones is not signed as the 14th overall pick, but none of the players selected from pick 12 through picks 17 have yet to sign their contracts. When it comes to Joey Porter, neither he nor Will Levis, picked one pick behind Porter at 33, have signed. With Porter, it also comes down to him being in the unusual circumstance where he’s the 32nd overall pick but it came in the second round. It’s not out of the question for Porter and his agent to try to get as much as allowed by the CBA in regards to the 32nd pick.
To finish things up, Keanu Benton, who was selected at pick 49, doesn’t have any players drafted close to him who have signed. In fact, from pick 40 through pick 54 only two players have signed and they are pick 41 and pick 53. When these gaps begin to close and one of the Steelers players is the only one around them who hasn’t signed, then it will become more concerning.
So there are three reasons why it’s not time to panic over the Steelers still having three draft picks unsigned. While it’s not the end of the world if this process takes a few more weeks, the news of any and all of the three players signing would be welcomed much sooner than later.