Recapping Roster And Draft Impact From Flurry Of Trades

Steelers NFL Draft logos

The Pittsburgh Steelers may have been the cause of a handful of strokes within the eastern Pennsylvania region over the course of the past week or so in light of their unusual and uncharacteristic activity. Because of the uncommon and, frankly, frequent behavior, I thought it would be of service to provide a recap of everything that went down and to take stock of what ultimately was gained and lost.

The trading started with a player-for-player swap, with Lucas Crowley being sent to Washington for cornerback Dashaun Phillips. Neither player made their new teams’ 53-man roster, but Phillips is on the Steelers’ practice squad.

Then the team made a trade for tight end Vance McDonald, sending a 2018 fourth-round pick the 49ers’ way, but also getting in return a 2018 fifth-round pick.

On the final cut-down day, Sammie Coates and a 2019 seventh-round pick were sent to the Browns for the Steelers’ original 2018 sixth-round pick that was traded to Cleveland a year ago in exchange for cornerback Justin Gilbert, who was released earlier this year.

Ross Cockrell was dealt to the Giants for a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick. Presumably, if some condition regarding playing time or some other factor is met, it could be elevated to a sixth-round pick, or dropped to no compensation at all, but this is not confirmed, merely speculation. When the Steelers traded a fifth-round pick for Brandon Boykin in 2015, for example, there was a condition that stipulated it would be elevated to a fourth-round pick if he received 60 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Finally, a day after the final cuts, the Steelers used that regained 2018 sixth-round pick as ammunition to send to the Buccaneers in exchange for safety J.J. Wilcox and a 2019 seventh-round draft pick.

So here is a rundown of what the team ultimately dealt, and what they got back:

Personnel Dealt Personnel Gained
C Lucas Crowley CB Dashaun Phillips
WR Sammie Coates TE Vance McDonald
CB Ross Cockrell S J.J. Wilcox
Draft Picks Dealt Draft Picks Gained
2018 Fourth-Round Pick (to 49ers) 2018 Fifth-Round Pick (from 49ers)
2019 Seventh-Round Pick (to Browns) 2018 Seventh-Round Pick (conditional) (from Giants)
2019 Seventh-Round Pick (from Buccaneers)

The 2018 sixth-round pick was a wash because they did not have it entering the season already. Depending on how the 49ers and Steelers finish during this season, the difference between the fourth-round pick lost and fifth-round pick gained could be somewhere around only 10 draft slots. If the Steelers place better than the Buccaneers in the 2018 season, they would also have improved their position in the seventh round of the 2019 draft.

The next two drafts now currently shape up as follows:

2018 NFL Draft Picks 2019 NFL Draft Picks
Round 1 Round 1
Round 2 Round 2
Round 3 Round 3
Round 5 (from 49ers) Round 4
Round 5 Round 5
Round 7 (conditional; from Giants) Round 6
Round 7 Round 7 (from Buccaneers)

After speaking to Ian Whetstone, who understands a lot more about the compensatory formula than me, I am now under the belief that the Wilcox trade will cancel out the compensatory draft pick the Steelers were hoping to gain from the loss of Lawrence Timmons in the fifth round. While Wilcox was traded, he was originally signed by the Buccaneers as a qualifying unrestricted free agent this year, so his compensatory impact carries over with him.

Additionally, the Cardinals releasing Jarvis Jones with an injury settlement may have already lost them that pick in the first place. It should be noted that none of this will be confirmed until the compensatory picks are actually announced next year.

It is worth noting that there are other factors that remain in play regarding playing time, performance, and roster status that could impact the compensatory pick formula. Players who are no longer on the roster by Week 10 would be removed from the formula, though among the Steelers’ free-agent gains, perhaps only Sensabaugh is likely to have any chance of being released.

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