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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Looking at the undrafted Steelers

They are the guys at the end of the roster that perhaps most fans don't know much about, but they can also turn into future stars - or at least capable NFL players.

With undrafted rookies, you just never know what you're going to get. It could be the next James Harrison or Willie Parker, or just another footnote in history.

But it's obvious the Steelers like some undrafted guys more than others - at least until they get them onto the training camps fields at Saint Vincent College.

That's where the players will be separated from the pretenders.

While that won't happen for a couple of more weeks, per here's a look at Pittsburgh's undrafted guys who received signing bonus money from the team - a clear picture on who the team liked more.

B.J. Finney, $10,000
Devin Gardner, $10,000
Miles Dieffenbach, $8,000
Cameron Clear, $5,000
Eli Rogers, $5,000
Reese Dismukes, $5,000
Ross Scheurman, $5,000
Tyler Murphy, $4,500
Niko Davis, $2,500
Cameron Stingily, $1,000
Kevin Whimpey, $1,000
Mike Thornton, $1,000

Obviously, the Steelers had a need on the interior line, giving Finney, Dieffenbach and Dismukes larger signing bonus.

But as I stated, that money means nothing when it comes to who will make this roster. But it does give a glimpse of which players the Steelers liked more - at least when it came to adding them to the roster following the draft.

What those players do with that opportunity is up to them.


Lee Foo Rug Bug said...

The headline should be "Listing" the Undrafted Steelers.

I expected you to go into detail on them.

Very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you want your money back? It's a free blog loser.

Tim said...

I rag on Dale all the time, but come on, what did you expect? That post was 100% consistent with everything else Dale does. Besides, if you're going to be that hypercritical about the headline, then you shouldn't have expected detail, you should have expected photographs. Just google their names if that's what you want. Dale listed them for you.

Check out SteelersDepot or just google "scouting report [player]". It's not hard.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Dale does tons of work for Steelers Nation Radio, available on iHeart Radio :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, cheap plug...

PS I'm not a robot!

Dale Lolley said...

You're not getting a "scouting report" on these guys before they get to Latrobe. Quite frankly, all we see of them in the spring is running around without pads on in non-contact stuff. Anybody who tells you they can tell what a player is like from those sessions is, in my eyes, crazy.

I want to see them in actual competition, be it at practice or in preseason games, before I come to any judgments. And in most cases, their college stuff doesn't count. They went undrafted for a reason. But some guys rise to the challenge. Others do not.

Patricia Evans said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
deljzc said...


Does Colbert get a limit from the owner on these types of funds from ownership? Is there a limit from the league? The total above is $58,000. Why not get the best and pay $5,000+ for all the best UFA's out there? Why not outbid?

Seems like a drop in the bucket as far as team spending goes.

deljzc said...


Does Colbert get a limit from the owner on these types of funds from ownership? Is there a limit from the league? The total above is $58,000. Why not get the best and pay $5,000+ for all the best UFA's out there? Why not outbid?

Seems like a drop in the bucket as far as team spending goes.

Anonymous said...

It is chump change. But you still have to structure/fit them all under the rookie salary cap. According to Ian Whetstone, the UDFAs were capped at $88 thousand.

As tightly structured as the slotted draft picks contracts now are, if you go over with the UDFAs, it would have to come out of the drafted player's pockets to make up the difference. That isn't going to happen. Still, they did come in well under that $88 grand. But it still appears to me that they had a predetermined budget of $50,000 coming out of the draft and with a predetermined number of players they wanted to sign to round out their roster. I'm guessing they left a hedge of $38,000 to allow for future injury replacement signings heading into and through camp. And perhaps to give themselves a tiny bit of wiggle room with their drafted players to help unjam a sticky negotiation. But that's just a guess.

Fwiw, Gardner didn't receive a signing bonus. From the Steelers anyways. He received a $5,000 signing bonus from New England with $10,000 of his salary guaranteed. When he was cut by NE and claimed by the Steelers, they inherited the $10,000 guaranteed salary part of his contract (signing bonus always stays with the signing team). All this also according to Whetstone.

So, assuming a ~$50,000 budget to sign ~10-12 UDFAs means roughly $4-5,000 per player. And if you go over, you have to go under to sign others. And according to Wexell, they reached a deal with Finney prior to the conclusion of the draft that if he went undrafted the Steelers wanted him. And that came at the cost of $10,000. Their biggest UDFA signing bonus. That left $40,000 to sign 9-11 players. Or $3.5-4,000 per.

Still, I'm just guessing they were under a self imposed budget of $50,000 with a hedge of $38,000. No idea if that's true or not. Or how rigid they were with that. But they did go over $4,000 on some players and under on others. And they went over on the number of players they said they wanted to add through UDFA. And the overage got zero signing bonus.

So it does seem like some sort of budget was firmly in place. And less than what they were allowed by the league. Like you said, the money is so insignificant, why not spent is all, up the signing bonus to the max/per and attract the best you can get?

Obviously that is not what happened. And for a reason. Just don't know what exactly it is. They had money to spare. So when it came down to guys like Stingley or Whimpey, why not just give them $5,000. If you have a firm budget, you have to underspend on some when you overspend on others. That seems to be the case here. Otherwise they would all be around $5,000 with a few of the guys they really wanted going higher.

I know this is all minutiae and trivial. And a bore to pretty much everyone. Altogether less than one game check for Cam Thomas. To put that into perspective. Still, I like to understand how/why everthing works/fails. Even trivial crap like this.

Dale Lolley said...

Why pay money if you don't have to? There's no reason to bid against yourself. And if the agent isn't asking for more, don't pay it.

Most of them are camp bodies just looking for a shot.

deljzc said...

It's not about over-paying. It's about getting the best available UFA. It's a free agent market with no limit to spend (unless the $88k is correct above).

When I watched his film, I don't think Whimpey is an NFL prospect at all. Complete camp fodder. But we are thin at tackle unless they have tons of faith in Villanueva taking a huge step this year. Why not pay and get a $10,000 UFA tackle instead of a $1000 one? Wouldn't the $10,000 UFA be better? The more teams looking at a guy normally means a better prospect which would lead to having to pay more. We got Whimpey for dirt cheap, which tells me he got zero calls form 31 other teams. That doesn't bode well for his chances in my opinion.

I guess I don't understand not getting the best of the best during this UFA process unless there is a cap imposed by either the owner or the NFL limits how much you can spend.

kyle said...

We're talking about guys who didn't get drafted. The Steelers know as well or better than any team about the diamonds that can be found in the rough but 90% of these guys are camp fodder. Upping the signing bonus isn't going to get you a quality depth player who was passed over 256 times. I'm not using that number for effect. That's how many players were drafted this year. Unless a team feels the 257th best player is a hidden gem, there's no reason to spend more.

Not to mention that the extra 5 grand isn't the only motivating factor for the UDFA guys. Going to a team where there's no logjam at your position is usually the main motivation. Making the practice squad or actually being on a roster is definitely a better payday than a signing bonus will be.

Dale Lolley said...

The UFAs basically pick the spot where they feel they have the best chance earn a spot on the roster. So let's say the Steelers offered the "best" UFA tackle $15,000 in bonus and another team that the prospect felt he had a better chance of making it with, offers $12,500? Which offer are you taking?
I'll pass on the extra $2,500 if I feel I have a better shot at long-term earnings.

Anonymous said...

Upping the signing bonus does get you the best of the leftovers. That is how they got Finney.

And if two teams are offering a UDFA $15k and $12.5k respectively, you can believe that both teams really like that player. That is a central point of the article. The higher the signing bonus, the higher the team interest in that player?

A guy like Finney might have thought he had the best chance of sticking with the Steelers, giving their IOL depth chart, and by the interest level of the team by them contacting him during the draft and setting up contract parameters prior to the conclusion. And by the money they offered. But then the Steelers turned around and also signed Dismukes and Dieffenbach. The top three signing bonuses paid went to interior linemen. So how great is that opportunity now?

There are three things that seem to factor most for UDFAs. Upfront money, opportunity, and proximity to home. In years past the Steelers use to host a large number of UDFA types among their 30 visitors. This was a good way for the team to work on that 2nd factor, by demonstrating to the player genuine interest by hosting him and getting to know him, and sell him on the team and his opportunities. And this was a fairly effective strategy by the team, as they landed a decent share of them post-draft. But last year, iirc, they invited hardly any and started focusing a little more on players projected on the top end of the draft. This year they kinda got back to inviting more back end players. And landed two. Tyler Murphy and Cam Clear. But those guys also got $5k signing bonuses. So what factored most? I don't really know.

They did land a 3rd. Sort of. Steelers also hosted Devin Gardner. But he originally signed with the Patriots who gave him $5k signing bonus and $10k guaranteed salary. Maybe it was the money. $15k. Maybe it was the opportunity. NE has crap at WR, and he signed with them to play WR. But the Patriots gave him all of 2 weeks to make that transition before giving up on him.

Steelers have crap at 3rd QB. So the opportunity was there. They also hosted him for a visit. So he should also have known just how interested the Steelers were in him. And the opportunity he had at QB in Pittsburgh(especially given rule changes that enhanced his value at slash/QB). At his position, not WR. But he went to NE instead. No idea how much the Steelers offered Gardner right after the draft, but since they picked up that $10k in guaranteed salary I'm guessing it was a signing bonus of at least that, but still less than the $15k the Pats pledged him. Who knows why Gardner originally chose the Pats over the Steelers. Or what factored most. But on the surface it looks like it was the money. And why not. Going back to Finney/Dieffenbach/Dismukes, at the time of signing opportunity is just as illusory an indicator as money. Opportunity/odds can be gone in a second. There are no parting gifts if chosing by opportunity. A hoodie maybe. But the money, that's yours. At that end of the roster, opportunity is lipservice. At their respective position there is only one bone, as Tomlin puts it. Maybe no bone at all. Money is money. You can't pay rent with wishes.

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