It’s widely been speculated that the Pittsburgh Steelers will ultimately place the franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree by this year’s deadline to do so, which is now March 12. Now with the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine on the books, reports are now surfacing that Dupree is indeed expected to get the franchise tag from the Steelers in the next 10 days.
According to Jenna Laine of ESPN, league sources have told her that the Steelers are expected to place the franchise tag on Dupree.
Overall, Laine’s Monday morning report on the Steelers tagging Dupree isn’t a bit surprising. After all, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert and team president Art Rooney II have all indicated in some form or fashion since the end of December that keeping Dupree in the fold for 2020 would be an offseason priority of the team’s.
When he talked at the scouting combine last week, Colbert wouldn’t say for sure whether Dupree would eventually be given the franchise tag by this year’s deadline. Instead, Colbert predictably made it clear that the organization knows it has the franchise tag at their disposal should they ultimately decide they want to use it.
The Steelers current salary cap situation is very tight with nearly two weeks remaining until the 2020 NFL league gets underway. It’s so tight right now that the team isn’t even close to being able to accommodate a franchise tag amount for Dupree, which currently is projected to be a little more than $16 million. Obviously, the Steelers have a lot of work ahead of them as they return home from the scouting combine and thus, they could potentially be able to afford a franchise tag on Dupree come deadline time.
Should the Steelers wind up placing the franchise tag on Dupree and he accepts and signs it, they would then have until the middle of July to get the former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky signed to a long-term extension. Failure to do so by that deadline would result in Dupree needing to play under the franchise tag the entire 2020 season.
The Steelers last used the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell in 2017 and 2018. After playing under the tag in 2017, Bell decided not to sign the tag in 2018 and ultimately sat out the entire season. The likelihood of Dupree doing what Bell did a few years is very unlikely as the outside linebacker has given previous indications he’d play under the tag if Steelers ultimately place it on him this offseason.
Dupree registered a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2019 to go along with 68 total tackles, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The former first-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft earned $9.232 million in 2019 as part of the fifth-year option on his rookie contract being picked up by the Steelers during the 2018 offseason.