The Pittsburgh Steelers carried four remaining members of the 2016 NFL Draft class into the 2019 season. All four of those remaining players signed elsewhere in free agency. The big-money contract out of the group proved to be Javon Hargrave, the third-round pick who got $13 million per season out of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Also signing elsewhere were first-round pick Artie Burns, second-round pick Sean Davis, and seventh-round pick Tyler Matakevich. As for the rest of the class, Jerald Hawkins was already traded the previous season, while Travis Feeney and Demarcus Ayers both flamed out.
It goes without saying that having a draft class of seven players and seeing none of them reach a second contract is always disappointing, even if at least one of those players signing elsewhere was simply because he was too good to be affordable to keep. Matakevich also would have been retained if he could have been had cheaper than what he signed for.
Still, the Steelers are not left totally empty-handed, as they will be reaping some light rewards via the compensatory pick formula for their losses from the 2016 class. Obviously, there is still a lot to go into how everything breaks down by the time picks are announced about 11 or so months from now, but as it currently stands, they could do worse.
For the loss of Hargrave, they are, right now, expected to be awarded a fourth-round pick. Both Davis and Matakevich are expected to be worth sixth-round picks based on the deals that they signed, and with the additional loss of B.J. Finney, they should net two sixth-round picks, offset by the gain of Eric Ebron.
While we are still awaiting details on the one-year contract that Burns reportedly signed with the Chicago Bears, it is possible that the Steelers could be in line for another compensatory pick thanks to him, especially if he earns a starting job with the Bears, though it may be as low as a seventh-rounder, and surely no higher than a sixth.
Lest we forget, the Steelers did also get something for Hawkins, though not much. Along with Hawkins, Pittsburgh sent to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their 2021 seventh-round pick, in exchange for the Buccaneers’ sixth-round pick in 2021, so that means it’s time to root against Tom Brady. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
All told, for the cost of a seventh-round pick, the Steelers are looking to gain a fourth-round pick, at least three sixth-round picks, and potentially one more pick in the sixth or seventh round, as a result of their 2016 class.
That is a small consolation prize for failing to add a single player who stuck beyond the 2019 season from that draft class. But at least it will give the team some ammunition to move around the draft board next year, assuming these picks fall in line where they are currently expected.