If you’re hoping for the Pittsburgh Steelers to receive any love from the compensatory draft pick formula in 2023, I have bad news for you. While the team had the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ray-Ray McCloud, Trai Turner, and James Washington sign with other teams this offseason, Pittsburgh went on a spending spree unlike any we have ever seen in the Kevin Colbert era as GM, signing James Daniels, Myles Jack, Levi Wallace, Mitch Trubisky, Gunner Olszewski, and Damontae Kazee from outside the organization prior to June 1. Therefore, any hope of the Steelers landing a comp pick or two for the 2023 NFL Draft is slim, at best.
What about 2024? We are two years away from having to comprehend that possibility, but seeing as it is the offseason, I wanted to do some digging into the plausibility of Pittsburgh netting a potential haul of compensatory picks two years from now, depending obviously on how they devote their cap dollars in free agency that offseason.
As many of you know, Pittsburgh would net a compensatory draft pick if one of their minority coaches or executives get hired as a head coach or general manager of another NFL team after the Rooney Rule was expanded. The league passed a resolution to reward teams a third-round compensatory pick for two consecutive years if a team loses a minority coach and an executive to HC and GM roles. To receive draft pick compensation, the former minority coach or executive must be employed by the employer club for a minimum of two years with no break in between their time with their former employer and their new employer in an elevated role.
Two potential head coaching candidates currently on the Steelers coaching staff that would meet those requirements are DC Teryl Austin and Senior Defensive Assistant/Linebackers Coach Brian Flores. Former GM and current analyst Scott Pioli recently stated in a segment on NFL Total Access that both Austin and Flores should be considered two of the top head coaching candidates in the league right now. Flores was recently fired from the Miami Dolphins after being their head coach for three seasons despite back-to-back winning seasons. Austin has held the role of DC for the Lions and Bengals, having interviewed for numerous head coaching positions over the last decade in the NFL.
While one could suggest that Flores could get hired away this offseason as either a HC or DC, which he is certainly deserving of, his ongoing lawsuit against the NFL complicates things. Should teams decide to wait until the legal proceedings are resolved regarding the lawsuit, perhaps it would be just as likely that Flores would remain in Pittsburgh for another season after 2022, thus qualifying for the comp pick resolution mandated by the league. Given Austin’s tenure and experience of coaching in the league, there is a good chance he will receive a fair amount of attention in future head coach searches, especially if Pittsburgh’s defense rebounds from last season.
As for players that could impact the comp pick formula, obvious names like Diontae Johnson, Terrell Edmunds, and Larry Ogunjobi stand out as players that could net extra draft capital for Pittsburgh if allowed to hit the open market. One would figure that Johnson would receive a third-round comp pick if Pittsburgh does decide to let him test the market. The same could be said for Ogunjobi who got a three-year deal worth $40.5 million from the Bears before a failed physical axed the signing, allowing him to sign with the Steelers for one year. Should he be fully recovery from the foot injury, Ogunjobi should be able to perform to the level where he can qualify for a third or fourth-round comp pick.
Edmunds came back to Pittsburgh after the open market didn’t show him any love, but another season to improve his value could help him command more in free agency next offseason. The same could be said for Devin Bush who is coming off a disappointing 2021 season but has the opportunity ahead of him with an improved defensive line, the instruction of Brian Flores, and another year removed from the ACL injury to regain his form that we saw pre-injury in 2019 and early 2020. That would make Pittsburgh have to decide whether to re-sign him, franchise tag him, or allow him to walk, netting net another draft asset.
Pittsburgh has plenty of other names that will be up for free agency in 2023, including Mason Rudolph, Cam Sutton, Derek Watt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, and Damontae Kazee who all could fetch a comp pick if the formula worked out right. Pittsburgh will likely retain several of the names listed, but not every player will remain in Black and Gold in 2023. Thus, while it appears that Pittsburgh won’t get any help in the form of comp picks this offseason, things look good at the moment to pick up at least a couple, if not several comp picks in 2024.
What are your thoughts on the plausibility of Pittsburgh having several comp picks coming their way in 2024? Do you think that they will benefit from either Flores or Austin getting a head coaching job? What players do you see them netting a comp pick for as free agents this year? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!