Steelers Compensatory Pick Projection: 2021 NFL Draft

Javon Hargrave

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Former Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave with Steelers defensive lineman Tyson Alualu.

On Tuesday the salary cap/NFL contract analysts at (OTC) issued their latest projection as to the compensatory picks that stand to be awarded prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s clear that the Pittsburgh Steelers will receive at least one compensatory pick next year—almost certainly a fourth-rounder—for losing nose tackle Javon Hargrave to the Philadelphia Eagles.

OTC also projects that the Steelers will receive a compensatory sixth-round pick for losing offensive lineman B.J. Finney to the Seattle Seahawks (though Finney has already been traded to the Cincinnati Bengals).

But the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) limits the number of compensatory picks to 32, and the Finney compensatory pick is projected to be very close to the 32-pick limit. As such, it could be affected by future developments, including whether select contracts end up qualifying for compensation—and in what round they are qualified.

It’s also worth noting that the NFL also recently approved a resolution in which the league plans to award third-round compensatory picks to teams that have a minority coach or executive who is hired to be a head coach or general manager of another team. That resolution is subject to approval by the NFL Players Association, but the addition of just one or two additional third-round compensatory picks in the 2021 draft could easily push the Finney pick out of the Top 32.

Meanwhile, teams are no longer motivated to release recently signed free agents to try to preserve projected compensatory picks, as was a big issue in 2019. For example, last year the Philadelphia Eagles released ex-Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort just four games into a three-year contract, a move that would have canceled out a third-round pick the Steelers were expected to receive in the 2020 NFL Draft for losing Le’Veon Bell to the New York Jets. That decision effectively forced the Steelers to cut Donte Moncrief (in midseason) to reinstate the pick, which the Steelers used to select outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.

LB Tyler Matakevich

The Steelers could also possibly receive a sixth- or seventh round compensatory pick in 2021 for losing linebacker Tyler Matakevich to the Buffalo Bills. However, the Matakevich contract isn’t currently projected to be among the Top 32 most valuable qualifying contracts, so it seems unlikely to yield any compensation.

Jacksonville Jaguars Injury Update

On an unrelated note, on Thursday the Jacksonville Jaguars placed cornerback CJ Henderson on injured reserve due to a groin injury. Henderson was selected ninth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft; he has started eight games this season with an interception, six passes defensed and a forced fumble.

Meanwhile, Jaguars rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado) missed practice for the second consecutive day with a hamstring issue—the same issue that caused him to miss last Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Shenault has 30 catches for 323 yards and a touchdown in 2020. He was drafted in the second round (No. 42 overall), seven places ahead of Steelers rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool.

The Steelers (9-0) play at Jacksonville (1-8) on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

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