Despite Several Free Agent Losses, Steelers 2017 Compensatory Draft Pick Outlook Isn’t Good


Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost several of their own unrestricted free agents to other teams so far this offseason, when it comes to potential compensatory draft picks for 2017, one shouldn’t get too excited now that the main signing period has come in gone.

While the Steelers have lost nine of their unrestricted free agents to other teams so far this offseason, it’s important to keep in mind that several of those loses aren’t likely to factor into the NFL’s compensatory formula because of the contracts those players signed.

For starters, cornerback Brandon Boykin, running back Jordan Todman, linebacker Terence Garvin and tackle Byron Stingily all signed one-year contracts that should qualify for the Minimum Salary Benefit. In other words, those four players aren’t likely to qualify as free agent losses when it comes to the league’s compensatory formula. Additionally, two of the free agents that the Steelers have signed so far this offseason, linebacker Steven Johnson and defensive end Ricardo Mathews, both also signed Minimum Salary contracts, so their additions also shouldn’t factor into the formula, either.

Taking all of the above into consideration, that leaves the Steelers with losing tackle Kelvin Beachum, nose tackle Steve McLendon, linebacker Sean Spence, cornerback Antwon Blake and h-back Will Johnson so far this offseason. Beachum’s deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, however, should ultimately cancel out the Steelers signing of free agent tight end Ladarius Green. Now, I know a few of you are wondering why that is being as Beachum’s deal includes a four-year option that could result in him earning a much higher yearly average. While that option might eventually be picked up, former NFL agent Joel Corry recently informed me that for compensatory purposes, Beachum’s contract will likely be viewed as just one-year deal. In case you missed it, the Jaguars must decide whether or not to pick up Beachum’s option bonus by the 22nd day prior to the start of the 2017 league year.

As for the Steelers losing Spence, that is likely to be offset by the Steelers signing tackle Ryan Harris and should that ultimately be the case, the Steelers will be left McLendon, Blake and Johnson as their three free agent loses that could potentially earn them compensatory draft picks.


As for McLendon, the Steelers probably stand to earn a 2017 sixth-round compensatory selection based on the history of how these were awarded this past year. As for the loss of Blake, assuming he makes the Tennessee Titans final 53-man roster and ultimately earns all of his potentially bonus money, the Steelers can probably stand to earn a 2017 seventh-round compensatory selection. As for the loss of Johnson, assuming he sticks with the New York Giants, there’s a chance the Steelers will receive a seventh-round compensatory in 2017 for his loss.

Now, do keep in mind that the league normally only doles out 32-33 compensatory draft picks every year, so because of that, there’s a chance the Steelers loss of Blake and Johnson won’t make it above the cutoff line. As a matter of fact, no seventh-round compensatory draft picks were distributed by the league this offseason. In other words, as things stand right now, a worst-case scenario for the Steelers would be that they only receiver one sixth-round compensatory draft pick for 2017 for their loss of McLendon. The best-case scenario would include them also receiving two seventh-round compensatory draft picks in addition to that one sixth-round pick.

Now, there’s still time for other free agent losses and additions to take place prior to June 1st, but judging by past history, any free agent players added or lost by the Steelers at this point aren’t likely to count in the league’s compensatory formula being as the contracts are likely to be only one-year deals for the minimum.

Steelers 2016 Offseason Free Agent Additions, Losses

PLAYERS SIGNEDTEAMYRSMAX TOTMAX AVG
Ladarius GreenPIT4$20M$5M
Ryan HarrisPIT2$3.9M$1.95M
Steven JohnsonPIT1$840K$840K
Ricardo MathewsPIT1$760K$760K
PLAYERS LOSTTEAMYRSMAX TOTMAX AVG
Kelvin BeachumJAX1$5M$5M
Steve McLendonNYJ3$12M$4M
Sean SpenceTEN1$2.5M$2.5M
Antwon BlakeTEN1$2.25M$2.25M
Will JohnsonNYG2$2.3M$1.15M
Brandon BoykinCAR1$840K$840K
Jordan TodmanIND1$800K$800K
Terence GarvinWAS1$750K$750K
Byron StingilyNYG1$760K$760K

  • alevin16

    And somehow the Ravens will still get 8 million Comp picks

  • PittsburghSports

    I bet we get a 5th for the combination of McLendon, Blake and the difference in Beachum’s and Spence’s contract. I would imagine the no 7th rd comp pick change will stick next year too, because it’s a great idea, and I think we lost more than we did this year and got a 6th rd pick for that.

  • Jon Crissinger

    I think they drugged the guy who knows the compensatory formula.

  • Trevor

    I didn’t think players could be grouped together in the compensatory formula? But I guess nobody really knows how it works.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Meanwhile, the Ravens get FOUR picks in the 4th round this year alone. You know, cause reasons.

  • John Noh

    Doesn’t matter. The Steelers will be picking from the 32nd position in the 2017 draft so every pick is going to be challenging.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Worry about one draft at a time! Let’s do it!

  • kev4heels

    still don’t understand how to determine Beachum’s potentitial pick compensation. If he is kept the following year, he stands to earn up to 10mil I think. would that be taken into conderation the following year?

  • PittsburghSports

    That’s exactly how it’s done. You don’t just get a pick/player. Every loss and addition goes in as a number, and then that’s compared to the rest of the league and out comes 32 comp picks.

  • Nolrog

    I think it depends on the nuances of the comp formula and when the next year is picked up (could it be after the comp picks are awarded?) Even then, it’s still likely to just offset the signing of Green.

  • WreckIess

    Well we typically sign some bottom of the barrel players for cheap and then lose those same bottom of the barrel players for the same amount. You’re not going to get comp picks losing guys who get signed for veteran minimum.

  • Ray Powell

    Also taking into account that Dave Bryan is a pessimist.

  • John21

    Amen! This will be brutal. 4 picks in Round 4! I wont be able to watch. The Ratbird Rookery will be crowded after this draft!

  • Matthew Marczi

    It would not, since he would essentially be a Jaguars pending free agent prior the the start of the 2017 league year unless his option is picked up.

  • Addison

    As long as they don’t trade away their draft picks for bench warmers and warm weather kickers this year they’ll be fine!

  • steeltown

    No worries. Really was not expecting much in return for Spence, Garvin and Blake. After we signed Green aand Boykin signed elsewhere for peanuts it was pretty clear we werent getting much

  • SteelersDepot

    Not sure how you come to that reasoning being as the whole post is based off of historical data.

  • LucasY59

    I think your estimation of a 5th is possible but I could see the equations equalling a better or increased amount of picks as well.

    I agree all additions/losses account for something, and there are too many across the league for all to earn a pick so when the total losses are larger than the gains and there are too many to each earn a pick they would combine a couple picks into a earlier comp

    so loss of two OTs, even though both are on one yr deals that is still 2 losses (to one addition) and combining Stingily’s min contract with Beachs 4 mill contract and subtracting Harris’s 2 yr contract (for about 2mil/yr) = a difference of 3 million in contracts (plus the extra player) earn a 5th (or at worst 6th rd pick, It will be a 6th if Stingily is cut at the end of the pre-season) Beach also has a significant chance of being a Starter at a position of high value in the league vs Harris could possibly never see a meaningful snap, so there is that to account for as well (and I believe that on field performance by a player can impact a comp as well)

    comparing loss of Spence and Garvin (again two losses to one gain (of Johnson) = at least a 6th rd pick (Johnson is a min deal (like Garvin) + he might not even make the roster) and Spences contract amount is similar to McCain which resulted in a 6th this draft.

    Mclendon for Mathews is also a big enough difference to earn a 5th (since it seems all comps rewarded are at least a 6th) its a loss of a starter (who got a 3 yr deal for 4m/per) for a replacement of a 1yr min deal depth guy that wouldnt even make the roster if they werent in need of a vet backup (I’m still not sure he makes it since there is little dead $ if they cut him, but traditionally they stick with a vet backup (see scam thomas) Walton would have to have a great TC to knock him off the roster)

    Loss of Blake and Boykin is two losses without bringing in a player to replace them so even though they are lower $ contracts I still see the combination of the two as a 6th (since the similar loss of McCain resulted in a 6th) Boykin getting slot snaps and performing well could also affect the comp

    Losing Todman and Johnson are kinda minimal losses but also had no replacements brought in so it could be a somewhat significant factor, the addition of Green is a bit trickier (but was on O and the losses of Todman and WJ were on O, so I would use them as part of the equation) Green’s contract was a decent one, but still only averages about 5 mil per yr so isnt going to earn the Chargers more than a 4th (probably 5th unless Green has a borderline ProBowl season) factor in the losses of the two above and Green cancels out one of the 5ths from the other comps I have mentioned.

    That equals a 5th and two 6ths so I could see them awarding all 3 of those picks or if that is too many (which I dont think it is since there was a loss of 9 and gain of 4 = total loss of 5, and reward of 3 comps seems appropriate) but if they wanted to limit the total picks given they could give a 4th and a 6th or two 5ths (they wont give a 3rd since those are supposed to be for significant losses, which wouldve qualified with Beach if his contract didnt have the unique structuring)

    I still see them getting more than Dave estimates (but he always goes on the minimal/conservative side when predicting comps, and is usually pleasantly incorrect, but only off by a round or late pick)

  • Zacharia Ashby

    I just thank my personal omnipotent being that Blake is gone.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Comp picks are like finding money between your sofa’s cushions. You can’t rely on it, but if it’s there it’s a bonus.

  • must be a thug heavy draft. NFL needs somewhere to stash them until there’s room in prison.

  • Respectfully disagree there. There used to be a blogger that went by adamJT13 that projected these and did a really good job of the projection and explanation. The players above a certain contract value (~$900k) were all given values according to contract, playing time and post-season honors. Signed players would cancel the lost players of most equivalent value, After all the those cancelled players are dropped out, the remaining uncancelled qualifying players are compensated 1:1 with picks. If there were picks left after that, the league then went over and awarded some 7th rounders to teams that lost large numbers of low contract guys.

    I’m kind of mystified by the lack of 7th rounders this year. Normally there are 6-10 I feel. Did they change something or are they using old dollar figures in the formula without cap inflation.

  • Steve Johnson

    This Compensation Junk is like a cap shoot. You can never determine how the dice will ro. Crazy Man.

  • Michael James

    If we only get a sixth rounder out of McLendon, Blake and johnson, someone has to explain how the Ravens got two 4th rounders and a 6th rounder this year.

  • PittsburghSports

    There’s still the same amount of comp picks. They just got rid of 7th rd comps because they’re basically UDFAs, so what’s the point. Making the comp picks at least 6th rd picks makes them a bit more valuable.

  • kev4heels

    Ahhhhh..good point

  • Ray Powell

    Well, firstly, I’ve read enough of your articles before and that’s my experience of your point of view. Secondly, it isn’t based on data, it’s based on assumptions drawn from the data, as evidenced by your frequent use of ‘likely’ and ‘probably’. Thirdly, just about every writer on this site was sure the Steelers were only getting a seventh round pick as compensation this year and they ended up with a sixth.

  • SteelersDepot

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the line of thinking.

  • PittsburghSports

    Makes sense to me. What’s your line of thinking?

  • Jeff Burton

    Now the compensatory pick ‘formula’ (I think they throw darts) SHOULDN’T offset by signings at another position. Beachum’s comp should be based on Ryan Harris, McClendon’s on Richardo Matthews, Antwon Blake’s on nobody. Ladarius Green is a signing to make up for the Heath Miller’s retiring. Beachum, McClendon and Blake were all STARTERS. Sean Spence is just a straight loss as is Johnson, Boykin and the rest. As I see it the Steelers should have 2 or 3 Comp picks with one maybe being as high as the 3rd or 4th Rd. I guess we’ll see but I think I’m closer than what the writer is speculating.

  • Ask Questions Later

    You do realize that if these guys were not in the NFL, 1/3 of them would be in prison.