PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Losing sometimes has its own rewards, and in the NFL those include compensatory draft choices.
The Steelers now have 10 picks in next month's draft after the NFL gave them three more in the seventh round based on their net losses in free agency last year.
The Steelers signed no unrestricted free agents last year and lost tight end Matt Spaeth (Bears), defensive end Nick Eason (Cardinals) and linebacker Keyaron Fox (Redskins) as UFAs.
The three extra picks are numbers 240, 246 and 248, giving the Steelers four seventh-round picks. Teams are not permitted to trade their compensatory draft choices.
The NFL issued 32 extra picks to 15 teams. They base the number and round of compensatory picks on a formula that considers the departing player's compensation and performance with his new team.
The Oakland Raiders received the highest compensatory pick -- a third-rounder, the only one issued in that round. The Raiders also received the third-best comp pick, in the fourth round, and another in the fifth.
Among the Steelers rivals in the AFC North Division, Baltimore acquired the best compensatory booty with picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. Cleveland received four, two each in the sixth and seventh rounds. Cincinnati got none.
General manager Kevin Colbert would not classify the Steelers in a rebuilding mode but acknowledged there is a leadership void, and a need for someone to fill it after the purge of longtime veterans over the past month.
"Obviously, the biggest thing that we lost in the terminations we had was leadership," Colbert said. "That wasn't disregarded when we made these decisions. But we just had to make the decisions. Leadership is an intangible you can't predict, and I don't know who will emerge as the leaders."
The Steelers released three captains -- James Farrior on defense, Hines Ward on offense and Arnaz Battle on special teams. They also released Aaron Smith, one of their most popular players inside and outside their locker room, and Bryant McFadden. Chris Hoke retired.
"It will be interesting to see whose team this becomes," Colbert said, "because James Farrior was undoubtedly the team leader, not just defensively, he was the guy. We'll see who steps up. To me, it's wide open but that's something you can never predict because you don't know who will show up, you know, when it's really required."
However, Colbert believes they still have the talent to make a run at another Super Bowl.
"From a talent standpoint, we're never in a rebuilding mode, I think we're retooling," Colbert said. "That is the phrase that I would use. We lost one starter with William Gay leaving us. We have obviously the majority of the team back. We'll see how this group shapes up."