We don’t have to worry about this just yet, but it could be something to monitor as the season progresses, depending upon injury, and perhaps performance, along the offensive line. The Pittsburgh Steelers, as you may already know, could potentially be at risk of losing a fifth-round compensatory pick next year by playing Joe Haeg, who has now logged double-digit offensive snaps in three of the past four games.
Nick Korte of Over the Cap, who is perhaps the best person to seek out when it comes to understanding how the NFL’s compensatory draft pick formula actually works, provided some context for Haeg’s relationship with the formula for the Steelers after he had to come in and play 16 snaps at left tackle Sunday in place of an injured Dan Moore Jr.
Korte notes that a player logging at least 25 percent of his team’s snaps for the season in which he is a compensatory free agent is an important figure. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, compensatory free agents being accruing ‘points’ relative to the formula once they hit the 25 percent mark, with one point for each percentage.
“If current teamwide offensive snap counts continue, I estimate that the Steelers can only use him in about 172 more snaps (equivalent to about two and a half starts) if they want to avoid canceling out that 5th round comp pick”, Korte wrote on Twitter. That is in addition to the 109 offensive snaps he has already played.
Joe Haeg has logged a total of 109 snaps thus far.
If current teamwide offensive snap counts continue, I estimate that the Steelers can only use him in about 172 more snaps (equivalent to about two and a half starts) if they want to avoid canceling out that 5th round comp pick.
— Nick Korte (@nickkorte) October 18, 2021
At the moment, Haeg has logged 27 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps, which bumps up his contract to a level that factors into the compensatory formula, at a seventh-round value. If he is under 25 percent by the end of the season, his contract in and of itself would not represent enough points to qualify for the formula. Pittsburgh is scheduled to earn a fourth-round pick for the loss of Bud Dupree. A projected sixth-round pick for Mike Hilton was canceled out by the trade acquisition of Ahkello Witherspoon, in case you needed a reminder of that. And you’re welcome.
The Steelers should be in better position to avoid using him now that Zach Banner is back, however. While Banner was on the Reserve/Injured List, Haeg was the team’s swing tackle, and even started a couple of weeks ago when Chukwuma Okorafor was out with a concussion.
Banner was activated to the 53-man roster late last week but was scratched from Sunday’s game. Presumably, he will dress when they come out of the bye week, and may potentially even start. The hope is that whatever ailment Moore is dealing with will also be cleared up by then.
It’s not a guarantee that Banner dresses over Haeg as the swing tackle, though. While they talk about Banner as being capable of playing both sides, he seems to be a right-side-exclusive player. Haeg has played on both sides.
If Banner were the swing tackle and Haeg were inactive for games, the team might have to move Okorafor from the right side to the left side in-game and plug in Banner if Moore were injured. But if Banner were to start, then either Okorafor or Moore, whoever is not starting on the other side, could dress as the swing tackle.