Despite Several Free Agent Losses, Steelers 2017 Compensatory Draft Pick Outlook Isn’t Good

Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost several of their own unrestricted free agents to other teams so far this offseason, when it comes to potential compensatory draft picks for 2017, one shouldn’t get too excited now that the main signing period has come in gone.

While the Steelers have lost nine of their unrestricted free agents to other teams so far this offseason, it’s important to keep in mind that several of those loses aren’t likely to factor into the NFL’s compensatory formula because of the contracts those players signed.

For starters, cornerback Brandon Boykin, running back Jordan Todman, linebacker Terence Garvin and tackle Byron Stingily all signed one-year contracts that should qualify for the Minimum Salary Benefit. In other words, those four players aren’t likely to qualify as free agent losses when it comes to the league’s compensatory formula. Additionally, two of the free agents that the Steelers have signed so far this offseason, linebacker Steven Johnson and defensive end Ricardo Mathews, both also signed Minimum Salary contracts, so their additions also shouldn’t factor into the formula, either.

Taking all of the above into consideration, that leaves the Steelers with losing tackle Kelvin Beachum, nose tackle Steve McLendon, linebacker Sean Spence, cornerback Antwon Blake and h-back Will Johnson so far this offseason. Beachum’s deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, however, should ultimately cancel out the Steelers signing of free agent tight end Ladarius Green. Now, I know a few of you are wondering why that is being as Beachum’s deal includes a four-year option that could result in him earning a much higher yearly average. While that option might eventually be picked up, former NFL agent Joel Corry recently informed me that for compensatory purposes, Beachum’s contract will likely be viewed as just one-year deal. In case you missed it, the Jaguars must decide whether or not to pick up Beachum’s option bonus by the 22nd day prior to the start of the 2017 league year.

As for the Steelers losing Spence, that is likely to be offset by the Steelers signing tackle Ryan Harris and should that ultimately be the case, the Steelers will be left McLendon, Blake and Johnson as their three free agent loses that could potentially earn them compensatory draft picks.

As for McLendon, the Steelers probably stand to earn a 2017 sixth-round compensatory selection based on the history of how these were awarded this past year. As for the loss of Blake, assuming he makes the Tennessee Titans final 53-man roster and ultimately earns all of his potentially bonus money, the Steelers can probably stand to earn a 2017 seventh-round compensatory selection. As for the loss of Johnson, assuming he sticks with the New York Giants, there’s a chance the Steelers will receive a seventh-round compensatory in 2017 for his loss.

Now, do keep in mind that the league normally only doles out 32-33 compensatory draft picks every year, so because of that, there’s a chance the Steelers loss of Blake and Johnson won’t make it above the cutoff line. As a matter of fact, no seventh-round compensatory draft picks were distributed by the league this offseason. In other words, as things stand right now, a worst-case scenario for the Steelers would be that they only receiver one sixth-round compensatory draft pick for 2017 for their loss of McLendon. The best-case scenario would include them also receiving two seventh-round compensatory draft picks in addition to that one sixth-round pick.

Now, there’s still time for other free agent losses and additions to take place prior to June 1st, but judging by past history, any free agent players added or lost by the Steelers at this point aren’t likely to count in the league’s compensatory formula being as the contracts are likely to be only one-year deals for the minimum.

Steelers 2016 Offseason Free Agent Additions, Losses

Ladarius Green PIT 4 $20M $5M
Ryan Harris PIT 2 $3.9M $1.95M
Steven Johnson PIT 1 $840K $840K
Ricardo Mathews PIT 1 $760K $760K
Kelvin Beachum JAX 1 $5M $5M
Steve McLendon NYJ 3 $12M $4M
Sean Spence TEN 1 $2.5M $2.5M
Antwon Blake TEN 1 $2.25M $2.25M
Will Johnson NYG 2 $2.3M $1.15M
Brandon Boykin CAR 1 $840K $840K
Jordan Todman IND 1 $800K $800K
Terence Garvin WAS 1 $750K $750K
Byron Stingily NYG 1 $760K $760K
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