Will the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately place the franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree before this year’s March deadline? While many believe they will, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert isn’t ready to say if that will ultimately be the case as of Tuesday morning.
“Time will tell,” Colbert said of a Dupree franchise tag possibility during his Tuesday morning press conference at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, IN.
Colbert went on to say a tad bit more about the use of the franchise tag by the Steelers and the goal should they potentially wind up using it.
“We always say the tag is available to us,” Colbert said. “We’ll never say we will, we’ll never say we won’t. Anytime we do, though, I think it’s always with the intention of, if we do tag a player, we’d like to get him signed to a long-term deal.”
Colbert even had a bit more to say about Dupree in a radio interview that took place after his combine press conference.
“I say this in all seriousness: everything changes as we go through this, free agency, the draft,” Colbert said, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “One thing that won’t change is our desire to have him finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. He had a great season for us, he earned it. There’s no denying that. We are just as happy as can be.”
Colbert and the Steelers should indeed be happy about Dupree’s 2019 season as the team’s former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky had a career year that included him registering 68 total tackles, 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. In short, Dupree earned every penny of the $9.232 million the Steelers paid him in 2019 as part of the team picking up his fifth-year option during the 2018 offseason.
That fantastic 2019 season from Dupree has now forced the Steelers to think long and hard about keeping the outside linebacker in the fold not only for the 2020 season, but possibly well beyond as well.
“Bud created a great decision for us,” Colbert said, according to Dulac. “He’s getting a feel for what a market will be, we’re getting a feel for what our cap will be. We want Bud Dupree to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
Should the Steelers ultimately wind up keeping Dupree in the fold this offseason, Colbert said Tuesday during a separate television interview that such an outcome would benefit the team’s improved defense, which was one of the best in the NFL for most of the 2019 season.
“He’s still a young ascending player, too, and we think we have a pretty good defense so we want to make sure we try to keep all as many parts as we can,” Colbert said.
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network a few days ago, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to move the starting date that players can be franchise tagged back two days to February 27th, and the deadline back to March 12th, so that CBA extension negotiations could continue during the early stages of the annual scouting combine.
If ultimately franchise tagged by the Steelers, Dupree would then be in line to earn roughly $16.266 million in 2020, according to early estimates. The Steelers would then have until the middle of July to get Dupree signed to a long-term contract. If they failed to do so by that date, then Dupree would have to play under the franchise tag in 2020.