The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers do whatever it takes to have Bud Dupree under contract for 2020?
Outside of health-related questions, the biggest situation hanging over the Steelers’ heads this offseason concerns the status of five-year veteran outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who after finally breaking out at the end of his rookie contract is slated to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time of his career.
It has been debated some whether or not it would be worth paying him what he would command on the open market. Many believe that his numbers do not give an accurate representation of his actual productivity, specifically as a pass-rusher, after nearly doubling his previous career-best sack total with 11.5 last year.
Steelers president Art Rooney II has gone on record as saying that the team is optimistic that he will be under contract for 2020, which strongly implies that they have every intention of exercising the franchise tag if they fail to reach terms on a long-term contract prior to the tag deadline.
In order to do that, they will have to create a significant amount of salary cap space through, primarily, releasing players such as Mark Barron and Anthony Chickillo, perhaps Ramon Foster as well. While you would lock in a starting edge rusher for one year who is good, you are creating several holes on the roster elsewhere and hamstringing yourself, preventing yourself from being able to do just about anything else. So will they get him under contract at all costs, or might they consider letting him go to be more prudent if the price is too high?