The newly revealed rule that prevented the Steelers from getting a compensatory pick higher than a fifth-rounder for Alan Faneca has been used at least twice before this year, including at least once with the Steelers.
The rule, according to two media reports out of Pittsburgh, says that a team can't receive anything higher than a fifth-round compensatory pick for a player with 10 or more seasons of NFL experience. So, for example, even though Faneca's value in the compensatory formula was the second-highest among all qualifying players, the Steelers got only a fifth-round comp pick for him because he had played 10 seasons before signing with the New York Jets.
In 1999, the same rule prevented the Steelers from getting a third-round pick for losing John Jackson, who had played 10 seasons for Pittsburgh before signing with San Diego in 1998. The Steelers did get a third-round comp pick in 1999, as well as a fifth-rounder, but it's now apparent that the third-round pick was for Yancey Thigpen, not Jackson, as I had thought at the time. Jackson and Thigpen each had a third-round value, with Jackson's value being slightly higher than Thigpen's. The Steelers also lost two lower-valued players, but those losses were negated by the signings of two lower-valued players. At the time, I questioned whether the Steelers' fifth-round comp pick was some type of "compromise" between the value of Thigpen and one of the lower-valued players lost, since none of them had a fifth-round value. But now we know that the third-round comp pick was for Thigpen, and the fifth-rounder was the highest the pick for Jackson could be, because of the 10-year rule.
One year later, in 2000, as many as four teams could have been affected by the 10-year-rule. One is definite -- the Arizona Cardinals got a fifth-round pick for losing Lomas Brown, who had a fourth-round value. The other three teams who might have gotten higher comp picks if not for the 10-year-rule were Kansas City (Rich Gannon), Pittsburgh again (Carnell Lake) and Minnesota (Jerry Ball). The Chiefs, Steelers and Vikings each had other players whose value might have been the reason they received fifth-round comp picks, but Wednesday's revelation of the 10-year-rule raises the possibility that those veteran players were the reason.
Although the Faneca fifth-rounder raised questions when first announced, it ultimately has resulted in far more answers about the process of awarding compensatory picks.
UPDATE: Add last year's fifth-round comp pick for San Diego to the list of possible picks affected by the 10-year rule. Although Donnie Edwards' value was on the borderline for a fourth- or fifth-round pick, his status as an 11-year veteran when he signed with Kansas City made it impossible for the Chargers to receive a fourth-rounder. Whether Edwards' value definitely was in the fifth round anyway, I'm not sure.