Steelers Still Profiting From Compensatory Formula Despite Seeming Indifference

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert spoke the other day, among other topics, about the compensatory pick process, saying that while the team tries to predict their compensation based on their understanding of the formula, it’s a “real complicated formula”, which is a statement of the obvious for anybody that follows such news.

In fact, Colbert said that the Steelers have gotten more picks than he has predicted they would receive in the past, implying that the team’s estimations of the process tend to skew on the conservative end of the spectrum.

Last season, the Steelers were awarded a sixth-round compensatory selection for the loss of William Gay, whom, by the time the draft rolled around, was already back on the roster. That compensatory pick was used to draft Vince Williams, who is projected to be the team’s starting Buck inside linebacker this year.

A year earlier, the Steelers were awarded a trio of seventh-round compensatory selections for minor departures. While half of their four seventh-round picks flushed out, their final pick is currently their starting left tackle in the form of Kelvin Beachum.

As yesterday’s news suggested, this year’s compensatory system was no different in upstaging conservative estimates.

The Steelers were awarded compensatory selections in the third, fifth, and sixth rounds. It was widely speculated that if a third compensatory pick were even awarded, it would likely come in the seventh round.

The primary players suggested to have contributed to this formula were Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy and Bruce Gradkowski. While Mendenhall didn’t sign a significant contract, he had significant playing time, which evidently helped boost the final compensatory pick up a round.

That is worth keeping in mind when turning your eyes south and looking at the bounty harvested by the Baltimore Ravens, which includes one third-, two fourth-, and one fifth-round selection.

The third-round selection presumably came from the loss of Paul Kruger, whereas the losses of Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams netted fourth-round picks. Ed Reed’s contract equated to the fifth-round pick.

One might ask why Williams was valued at a fourth-round level while Lewis was valued as a fifth (albeit the highest fifth), but that might not even be the right question to ask. It’s also important to note that the Ravens didn’t sign any players that hurt their compensatory selections, while the Steelers did, which could have influenced the discrepancy.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Lewis’ five-year contract averaged out at $5.1 million per season with $10.5 million guaranteed. Williams signed a three-year contract with the same amount of guaranteed money that pays an average yearly salary of greater than $5.5 million.

The Ravens as an organization seemingly focus more on compensatory picks than any other team in the entire league, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see them come up with significant extra picks.

The Steelers, however, are not nearly as concerned. Three of the four free agent signings outside the organization, for example, were players that would factor into the compensatory formula next year, which is worth keeping in mind when thinking about all the free agents they’ve lost this year.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Steelers12328882

    Kruger and Ellerbe make complete sense, but whatever formula used that gave the Ravens a 4th for the loss of Williams while the Steelers received a 5th for Lewis is flat out wrong. The difference in avg. money is so small it really shouldn’t have affected it. I can’t imagine signing Gradkowski made much of a difference either with the Mundy loss figuring in. Lewis was drafted by us and coming off his first contract while Williams was cheery picked off the Titans practice squad. Going into free agency last year Lewis was also rated a few spots ahead of Williams on most free agent cornerback lists. They both had similar seasons with their new teams as well. Just seems completely unfair.

  • Steelers12328882

    On top of this the Ravens received a 5th rd. pick for Ed Reed. So, basically the Ravens received the same pic for losing Ed Reed on his last leg that the Steelers received for losing Lewis in his prime. Ridiculous!

  • Hard Row

    Ravens got way too much. Ed Reed should count for nothing. The world’s highest paid homeless person was washed up.

    I remember the Steelers not getting a comp for Faneca leaving because there was a rule that veterans of so many years don’t count.

    Would be nice to have the 3rd rounder they traded for Landry Jones. I know technically they traded up for Shamarko, but Shamarko was the need and Landry was the luxury pick.

    I think they traded up for the extra pick to get Shamarko because they wanted Landry also.