The Pittsburgh Steelers lost more in free agency than they normally do this past year. The question is what they will get for it all. At the moment, Over the Cap is projecting that they will receive a fourth-round compensatory pick for the three-year, $39 million contract signed by defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, and a sixth-round pick for the loss of lineman B.J. Finney, who is now on the Cincinnati Bengals after being traded by the Seattle Seahawks.
According to Nick Korte, however, there is a chance that they could still qualify for another sixth-round compensatory pick for the loss of Tyler Matakevich, who signed with the Buffalo Bills, whom the Steelers will be playing in a few weeks.
8. Steelers: There’s a chance they could add a 6th round compensatory pick for the departure of Tyler Matakevich, but it could struggle to make the 32 pick limit. (heads up to @Steelersdepot)
— Nick Korte (@nickkorte) November 17, 2020
The problem is simply whether or not it will make the 32-pick cutoff limit. Currently, it is projected to be two spots off the cutoff limit for the final compensatory pick (Finney’s is the second-to-last to qualify), with Donald Darby being the last qualifying and HaHa Clinton-Dix being the first that does not qualify past the cutoff limit.
Korte writes that there are 46 eligible qualifying compensatory picks this year, the most that there have ever been, but of course with a 32-pick limit, that means 14 will not qualify, based on the salary that the player received, primarily. All eligible seventh-round compensatory picks currently do not make the cutoff.
All of this is unofficial, of course, and we won’t know the actual data until the compensatory picks are officially announced, which will not be for a while now, but each year the formula is figured out more and more and the projections get more and more accurate.
Currently, the Steelers are scheduled to have seven non-compensatory draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, including two seventh-rounders and no fifth-rounder. They traded their natural fifth-round pick for defensive lineman Chris Wormley. They swapped late-round picks last year with the Miami Dolphins. They will also have a sixth-round pick from the Jerald Hawkins trade, who of course they’ve gotten back.
Their sixth-round pick came from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from that trade, while their two seventh-round picks were a part of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade and the Wormley trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Add on fourth- and sixth-round compensatory picks, and that gives the Steelers nine projected draft picks in total. If they get another sixth-round compensatory pick for Matakevich, they will have 10 draft picks in all.
This year, five of the six players that they drafted made the 53-man roster, as did one college free agent, though that sixth drafted player has been on the practice squad, and in fact has dressed for the past three games.
But with Bud Dupree, Matt Feiler, Zach Banner, Alejandro Villanueva, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, and others scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in 2021, it’s inevitable that they will have some roster spots to fill—and probably a good number of compensatory picks on the way for 2022.