For several years in the NFL, June 1 was always the deadline for free-agency signings as it relates to how they are counted in the compensatory draft pick formula. That has now changed as the Competition Committee has now decided to move the date up several weeks. The new deadline is May 12 and that’s this Tuesday.
So what exactly does that mean as it relates to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For starters, I think it’s safe to say that the Steelers will have a net loss of one unrestricted free agent this offseason as cornerback Brice McCain was the only player to sign elsewhere. It’s important to remember that running back DeAngelo Williams does not count as a signed unrestricted free agent as he was released by the Carolina Panthers after the start of the new league year.
Based on the two year, $5.5 million contract that McCain signed with the Miami Dolphins, we can probably expect the Steelers to receive a seventh-round compensatory pick in the 2016 NFL Draft as a result of him being signed away. A sixth-round pick at the most, but that might be a reach.
Here is another interesting to think about as it relates to the deadline being moved up. Being as the Steelers chose not to add more depth at the running back position during the 2015 NFL Draft, I think there’s a good possibility that one or two unsigned free agents might be signed to one-year deals for the minimum soon and a few candidates quickly come to mind.
For starters, assuming he won’t be suspended by the league for a February marijuana possession charge, former Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw might very well be on the Steelers short list. If you remember, they brought Bradshaw in for a visit two years ago but decided not to sign him at the time.
Former Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas has also still yet to find a new home and thus would likely be willing to sign for the minimum after Tuesday.
The same goes for former Tennessee Titans running back Leon Washington, who is an accomplished kick returner. He is, however, 32 years-old, but for the league minimum, he’s still viable option.
Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe McKnight also has some return experience.
Several might suggest unemployed veterans Pierre Thomas and Steven Jackson, but they both could’ve been signed for several weeks without worries of compensatory loss as both were released by their former teams several weeks ago. Perhaps both have lowered their price tags by now.
Whatever the route the Steelers choose, I have a feeling that they might be adding another running back or two to their 90 man offseason roster very soon as they currently only have five of them under contract. We’ll just have to wait and see.