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The former Steelers’ guard/center in heading back to the AFC North after being traded to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Right now the 2021 NFL draft seems a long way in the back of the minds of many Steelers fans as the team is 6-0 heading into a big matchup in Baltimore against the Ravens. But with part of the Steelers compensatory formula reportedly being shifted around, it’s not a bad time to review where the Steelers stand so far when it comes to any compensatory picks in the 2021 NFL draft.
For a brief overview of the compensatory formula, teams are awarded draft picks based on unrestricted free agents lost by the team versus those signed by the team in any given offseason. If a team loses more players than it gains, they are eligible for a comp pick. In the 2020 offseason, the Steelers lost five qualifying players while only gaining two. But if the trade goes through, one of the players the Steelers lost appears to be on the move. So how does this affect the compensatory formula?
The player in question is former Steelers offensive lineman B.J. Finney. Finney signed a two-year deal in the offseason with the Seattle Seahawks but was unable to crack their starting lineup. As reported by NFL Netwrok’s Ian Rapoport, Finney is being traded to the Cincinnati Bengals.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 28, 2020
So does this mean the Steelers lose a player from the compensatory formula? Quite simply, they do not.
As stated in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement signed this past March, when a player is treated who is a compensatory free agent (CFA), where they fit in the formula gets traded along with the player. As stated in Appendix V, Paragraph 3, Section A:
If a Club trades for a player who was a CFA during that League Year, whether the player was another Club’s CFA or the acquiring Club’s own CFA, the player will be considered a CFA gained by the acquiring Club and will be included in the Compensatory netting process
In other words, it doesn’t matter which team Finney is playing for if his rights were traded. He still counts as the same loss for the Steelers regardless.
One thing to remember is this may help the Steelers slightly in the compensatory formula as one factor which adds points to a player’s value is the percentage of snaps they play once they get above 25%. So far in 2020, Finney has not played a single offensive snap. Although we played several special team snaps in Seattle, those do not qualify as part of the compensatory formula. Should Finney get significant playing time in Cincinnati, it could help his compensatory value.
According to the experts at overthecap.com, the Steelers are still in line to receive to compensatory draft picks. The Steelers are projected to gain a fourth round draft pick for the loss of Javon Hargrave and a sixth round draft pick for B.J. Finney. The pick for Finney is very much in question as the NFL only awards 32 compensatory picks and Finney is currently ranked 31st. Should he get significant playing time in Cincinnati, Finney could still hold on for the Steelers to receive a second choice.
The Steelers actually have a net loss of three players as Nick Vannett would give the Steelers a seventh round selection, but it does not fall in the top 32 of the NFL.
The cancellation of the players gained by the Steelers are Derek Watt canceled the loss of Tyler Matakevich and Eric Ebron cancels the loss of Sean Davis. Neither the loss of Artie Burns or the gain of Stefen Wisniewski had a salary large enough to qualify as a CFA.
Wait a minute… Did I just say Sean Davis? Yes I did. And this is something new in the 2020 CBA. The old rule stated a player must remain on the team’s roster through Week 10 of the NFL season. The new CBA has no such date listed in their expanded covering of the compensatory process. The only date described in the new CBA is as follows in Appendix V, Paragraph 1, Section A:
Commencing with 2020 free agency signing period, a Compensatory Free Agent (“CFA”) shall be defined as an Unrestricted Free Agent (“UFA”) who: (i) signed with a new Club during the prior free agency signing period (with the 2020 free agency period being the first such “prior free agency signing period” under this appendix) prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Monday following the NFL Draft for that League Year or whose rights were retained by the prior Club by sending the player the Unrestricted Free Agent tender prior to such time and date; and (ii) ranked within the top 35% of all League players in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 2 below.
To clarify, Paragraph 2 which is referenced in the above quote simply describes where a player would fall by round and their scoring system for determining these things.
Although it isn’t completely clear, the precise wording of the new CBA would make some believe that once a free agent is signed with the team beyond the Monday following the NFL draft, they count in the formula even if they are released. If this is true, Sean Davis is still a loss for the Steelers and a gain for the Washington Football Team.
With Davis not playing in Washington (and not even playing as of yet for the Steelers), he won’t be gaining any additional points and may drop in value in the compensatory formula. If so, Ebron’s cancellation may be for B.J. Finney and the Steelers could fall out of the top 32 with their second selection if it is a reduced value in Sean Davis.
Even so, the Steelers apparently still have a net loss of three players from 2020 free agency and, no matter how it shakes out further down, look to receive a decent compensatory pick for the loss of Javon Hargrave.