The Pittsburgh Steelers have already lost two of their own unrestricted free agents to other teams so far during the 2017 NFL league year as linebacker Lawrence Timmons and wide receiver Markus Wheaton have both signed contracts with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears respectively. Whenever a team loses an unrestricted free agent during the prime signing period, which now is believed to end two weeks after the draft is completed, it’s easy to start thinking ahead as to how the losses will ultimately factor into the compensatory draft pick formula.
On the surface, the Steelers losing Timmons to the Dolphins via a two-year, $12 million free agent contract that reportedly included $11 million in guaranteed money would normally have one thinking that’s a high valued loss when it comes to the compensatory draft pick formula. However, being as Timmons is a 10-year veteran, his compensatory formula value is automatically lowered as Over the Cap pointed out in a recent post.
The highest round DeMarcus Ware, Andrew Whitworth, Julius Peppers, Lawrence Timmons and Lorenzo Alexander can be valued at is the 5th round. This is due to the Alan Faneca rule that declares that any CFA with ten or more accrued seasons may be valued no higher than a 5th rounder. For this reason, Denver, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Buffalo should not expect anything more than a 5th for these players—and teams interested in signing this class of players can spend more than the estimated $6.35 million APY without jeopardizing any 3rd or 4th round valued CFAs they may have lost. Teams managing any internal cancellation charts should adjust accordingly.
As you can see, Timmons’ loss via free agency this year is only expected to bring the Steelers a fifth-round value when it comes to the compensatory draft pick formula for 2018.
As for the loss of Wheaton to the Bears, it’s still unclear as to what round of a compensatory selection he’ll qualify for when it comes to the Steelers because we still don’t know the specifics related to the two-year free agent contract that he reportedly signed.
While the Steelers still stand to lose a few more of their unrestricted free agents in the coming days or weeks, one can easily speculate that when and if that happens, no huge contracts will be signed.
Linebacker Jarvis Jones may perhaps ultimately sign the largest free agent contract of the remaining group of unsigned players if not ultimately re-signed by the Steelers. In case you’re curious, Jones, running back DeAngelo Williams, defensive end Ricardo Mathews, safety Shamarko Thomas, and center Cody Wallace are currently the Steelers remaining unsigned unrestricted free agents at the time of this post.
Also, please keep in mind that if the Steelers sign any unrestricted free agents from other teams during the main signing period, those might ultimately need to be factored into the compensatory formula as gains and especially if those contracts are for more than the league minimum.