Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: OLB Bud Dupree
Stock Value: Up
While we have already talked about Bud Dupree in this column during this offseason, I thought it was worth addressing again following general manager Kevin Colbert’s remarks about the team’s approach to negotiating with him and his representatives this offseason.
Both head coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II have already made it clear in offseason remarks that the team has every intention of retaining Dupree, their first-round pick from the 2015 NFL Draft. Rooney even said that he was “optimistic” about it, but was referring only to the 2020 season, which implied that their deal may only be limited to the franchise tag.
Colbert issued the strongest affirmation about the teams’ approach to Dupree’s future, saying that they would like to make sure that he is a Steeler for life. That is a very significant statement, though of course expressing the desire to make that happen and actually completing it are different matters.
I believe at one time or another the team surely expressed the same sentiment about Le’Veon Bell. Back in 2018, the second time they franchise tagged him, they reportedly offered him a five-year contract, which would have taken him through 10 seasons. For a running back, that’s pretty close to being with one team for your entire career. Not a lot play longer than that.
I don’t expect a franchise tag situation with Dupree to develop anything like Bell, however. Dupree has even specifically said that he would not approach being tagged in the same fashion that Bell did, though admittedly the latter had a stronger case to make for his value based on his on-field production (though not the position he played).
I’m pretty confident in saying that we will see him in Pittsburgh in 2020. But what about 2021? 2022? Will he really be a Steeler for life? Could the draft possibly play a role in their negotiations, assuming they only reach the tag stage by then? I wouldn’t think so, but sometimes you just don’t know.