Could Steelers get two third-round compensatory picks in 2021?
The Pittsburgh Steelers may be short on draft capital this April, but here’s how they could end up with two extra third-round picks in 2021.
Anyone who’s followed the Steelers for a long should have a pretty good sense of how they do business by now. They spend to the cap ceiling nearly every season, and they aren’t going to be that team that goes out and lands the most high-profile free agents.
Instead, Kevin Colbert and the Rooney family prefer to continue doing business the way they have done if for years: Draft well and make sure their own players get paid. This philosophy has paid dividends for them in the past, but some missed picks on players like Jarvis Jones, Artie Burns, and Senquez Golson make this strategy less than ideal as of late.
Pittsburgh has some major decisions to make this offseason regarding the future of edge defender Bud Dupree and defensive lineman Javon Hargrave. While locking them up for the foreseeable future is something they would assuredly do if they had the cap space, the Steelers are currently 30th in the NFL in shopping money heading into the 2020 offseason, and a deal with even one of these players could get them into some financial trouble.
Though it’s highly unlikely the Steelers would ever consider going this route, there is a chance Pittsburgh could get not one, but two 3rd round compensatory draft picks next season if they let both Dupree and Hargrave sign elsewhere this offseason.
According to Spotrac.com, Bud Dupree’s estimated market value on his upcoming deal is $16.6 million per season. Hargrave’s estimated future contract is also eye-popping. Despite playing just 63 percent of snaps with Stephon Tuitt down for most of the year in 2019, Hargrave is estimated to earn $14.7 million per year on his new deal.
James Conner is a testament to the impact a 3rd round compensatory pick can come in and make. Despite playing sparingly as a rookie, he led Pittsburgh’s rushing attack after Le’Veon Bell elected to sit out the entire 2018 season.
Now that compensatory picks are tradeable, Pittsburgh could even use this capital to launch itself forward in the 2021 draft. Heading into next April with a first, second, and three thirds could give them a fighting shot to move up and land Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields next year.
While whichever players Pittsburgh drafts with those picks certainly won’t be Dupree or Hargrave right away, they will be significantly cheaper options and could save the Steelers close to $30 million per season.
Obviously, this is just food for thought, and the Steelers still need to do whatever helps their chances in a closing Super Bowl window. However, Dupree is a risky player to sign with just one year of solid production. If the Steelers wanted to, they could go into next offseason with loads of draft capital by letting Dupree and Hargrave walk.