The start of the 2020 free agent signing period is now less than 60 days away and with that we’re starting to see several lists being released that rank the soon-to-be scheduled unrestricted free agents. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com released his top 25 NFL free agents of 2020 on Sunday and Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is included those rankings.
Rosenthal has Dupree ranked 23rd overall on his list of top 25 NFL free agents of 2020 and below is what he wrote about the Steelers former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky.
Was Dupree’s 11.5 sack 2019 season a sign of him being a very late bloomer and thus finally hitting his full potential as a pass rusher? Additionally, what would Dupree’s market value be should he ultimately be allowed to test unrestricted free agency in March?
We might not be able to get an answer to the second question above due to the Steelers seemingly being intent this offseason on keeping Dupree in the fold for at least one more season. Based on what Steelers team president Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin have both said since the 2019 season ended, every effort will be made to keep Dupree in Pittsburgh this offseason. Assuming that is indeed the plan, the Steelers will likely first need to use the franchise tag on Dupree this offseason to ensure he won’t leave as an unrestricted free agent.
The franchise tag amount for Dupree is currently projected to be $16.266 million. Should, however Dupree allowed to test unrestricted free agency in March, odds are good another team would look to sign him to a long-term contract that might average $18 million or more a season and potentially include full guarantees for at least the first two years of the deal.
Should, however, the Steelers ultimately place the franchise tag on Dupree ahead of the start of the new league year in March, they could still work toward getting him signed long-term as the offseason progresses. The Steelers could also decide to let Dupree play out 2020 without a long-term deal secured to see if he can duplicate or better his 2019 performance.
March 10 is this year’s deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition players for 2020 so we should know by then at the latest what the Steelers think about Dupree. Like so many other players on Rosenthal’s list of 25, Dupree might not even get a chance to test unrestricted free agency this offseason.