While the 2012 compensatory draft picks will not be announced until the league meetings in March, it is pretty easy to guess that the Steelers at worst will receive two 7th round compensatory draft picks for the loss of unrestricted free agents, tight end Matt Spaeth and defensive tackle Nick Eason, last offseason.
Compensatory picks are awarded based on a formula that takes into account salary, playing time and postseason honors of each lost free agent and the there must be a net loss of unrestricted free agents by the team to receive compensatory picks. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council and not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.
Spaeth signed a three-year, $5.975 million contract with the Chicago Bears last July and Eason signed a two-year, $1.95 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals last July as well. Spaeth played nearly 370 snaps for the Bears in 15 games and caught 7 passes for 50 yards and 2 touchdowns. Eason played nearly 260 snaps for the Cardinals in 16 games and recorded 12 total tackles and 1 sack.
Based on the stats, playing time and lack of postseason honors, the Steelers should receive two 7th round picks in March when the picks are awarded.
ETA: A reader asked about linebacker Keyaron Fox, who was signed by the Washington Redskins for one-year, $810,000. He played in 13 games with just over 50 snaps on defense and recorded 13 total tackles. I do not think however the formula will equate to a compensatory pick for him, but if it does, it would also be a 7th rounder. I just do not think it will thus why I omitted him..