Now that the 2014 season is over for the Pittsburgh Steelers we can try to guess what they will receive in the way of compensatory draft picks during the offseason.
Let me start off by saying that nobody knows the exact formula used by the NFL to determine compensatory picks. However, over the years some patterns have developed that make it a little easier to guess.
Before we start looking at this past season, let’s recap what the Steelers gained and lost prior to the 2013 season and what they were ultimately rewarded in the way of compensatory draft picks.
The lone free agent player gained by the Steelers that counted in the formula that offseason was quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. The four free agent players that qualified as being loses that offseason were wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Keenan Lewis, running back Rashard Mendenhall and safety Ryan Mundy. Being as the Steelers had a net loss of three players, they were awarded compensatory draft picks in third, fifth and seventh rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
This past offseason the Steelers lost wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, defensive end Ziggy Hood, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, defensive end Al Woods, safety Ryan Clark, fullback David Johnson and running back Jonathan Dwyer in free agency. Of those seven players, I don’t expect Dwyer will qualify as loss in the formula due to the contract that he signed and the snaps that he played.
The Steelers did sign five unrestricted free agents during the offseason and they were safety Mike Mitchell, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Cam Thomas, linebacker Arthur Moats and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Of that group, I don’t expect Moats and Heyward-Bey will factory into the formula because of the contracts and playing time they received.
If my assumptions are correct, that would leave the Steelers with a net loss of three players. Now, determining which players in that net loss will return compensatory picks and in what round is very tough to do.
I believe Mitchell and Sanders will cancel each other out. In addition, I can see Thomas canceling out Woods. I can also see Blount canceling out Johnson so that leaves us with Cotchery, Hood and Clark as players we possibly need to determine compensatory draft pick value for.
None of those three players should return a compensatory pick higher than the sixth round, in my opinion, so I will guess that the Steelers will receive two six rounders and a seventh rounder.
Remember, the CBA limits the number of compensatory picks league-wide to 32, so there’s no guarantee the three players considered net loses in my projection will qualify. In other words, they might only receive just one or two compensatory picks.
The league usually awards all compensatory draft picks in late March.
Steelers 2014 Free Agent Gains And Losses