Will the Pittsburgh Steelers be able to keep outside linebacker Bud Dupree in the fold this offseason? We’ll likely find out by the start of the new league year in March, but in the meantime, however, it appears as though every effort will be made to keep Dupree at least one more season, according to what head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday during his end-of-the-season press conference,.
“You know, he’s a priority for us, but we hadn’t had extensive meetings in terms of, you know, defining that,” Tomlin said Tuesday about Dupree when asked how important he feels it is to possible retain the outside linebacker this offseason. “But make no mistake, Bud Dupree is a priority for us.”
The Steelers will be up against the salary cap this offseason and thus attempting to retain Dupree, who had 10.5 sacks in 2019, will be tough to do without some serious massaging of the 2020 numbers.
If indeed the Steelers do view Dupree’s retention as a high-priority offseason to-do list item, them placing the franchise tag on him by the start of the new league year in March might be the first initial step in making sure their former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky stays in the fold for at least 2020.
The early estimated franchise tag cost for Dupree is $16.266 million and to hear the outside linebacker talk on Monday, he would have no issues signing said tender should that be the Steelers course of action.
The Steelers could obviously sign Dupree to an extension before placing the franchise tag on him. However, while they might attempt to have such negotiations in the coming months, odds are good that they’ll ultimately have to use the franchise tag and then possibly continue extension talks on into the summer.
Steelers team president Art Rooney II will likely hold his annual end-of-the-season media session in the next few weeks and when he does, it will be interesting to hear his thoughts on Dupree and him possibly remaining in Pittsburgh in 2020 and possibly beyond.
Dupree is currently scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March after earning $9.232 million in 2019 as part of the fifth-year option on his rookie contract being exercised ahead of the 2018 season.