Looking back, trading for TE Nick Vannett was a mistake by Kevin Colbert. Better for this trade to fail than the other deal he made, acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick means you’ve still done a very good job, but still, Vannett was a panic move to try and fill a hole at tight end. Now he’s in Denver and Pittsburgh gave up a 5th round pick for a rental player who played poorly while with the Steelers.
But there’s a small upshot to it. According to Over the Cap’s Nick Korte, the #1 dude you should listen to when it comes to everything compensatory formula, the mid-sized deal he received from the Broncos will help the Steelers next offseason. Here was his take.
Nick Vannett's contract, on the other hand, should indeed qualify as a compensatory free agent, as a 7th rounder.
In the Steelers' cancellation chart, Vannett's departure is canceled by the arrival of Derek Watt, reopening up a 6th rounder for the departure of Tyler Matakevich. https://t.co/vtltp3YUeZ
— Nick Korte (@nickkorte) March 21, 2020
So Watt and Vannett will cancel each other yet, opening up Tyler Matakevich to net Pittsburgh a late round compensatory pick.
What about Eric Ebron? According to Korte, that will cancel out safety Sean Davis signing with Washington.
Signing Eric Ebron will cancel out a 6th round 2021 compensatory pick the Steelers had for the departure of Sean Davis.
The Colts also get on the 2021 compensatory pick board for the first time with a 7th rounder for the departure of Joe Haeg opening up. https://t.co/F0ptXVk404
— Nick Korte (@nickkorte) March 20, 2020
Add all that up and it appears Pittsburgh should be in the same place they were prior to Ebron signing. Korte projects Pittsburgh to receive a 4th and two 6th round selections in 2021. He also has Artie Burns as a question mark, possibly playing into the formula in a positive way for the team, though personally, I find it unlikely to happen.
So yes, the Steelers lost out on a 5th round pick in the Vannett trade. But in a roundabout way, will net a 2021 6th round pick for him.
Beyond that, getting those extra comp picks means the team gave up little for Chris Wormley, sending next year’s 5th rounder and receiving a 2021 7th rounder back from Baltimore. Loss of that pick won’t be felt as much and I’m sure part of the team’s calculation to part with a future pick.
Playing these comp games is a chess-not-checkers move that still can’t justify the trade, it was an overpay at the time, it certainly was an overpay in hindsight, but it eases the mistakes just a bit.
The games won’t stop either. As Steelers’ fans found out last year, nothing is certain until mid-season, when teams can still release players and have them not count against the comp formula as the Eagles did with LJ Fort, causing Pittsburgh to part with Donte Moncrief.