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: Under what realistic circumstances might Bud Dupree remain with the Steelers beyond 2021?
Now that the franchise tag multi-year extension deadline has come and gone, we can work under the knowledge that Dupree will play this season under contract for only the 2020 season, and will be scheduled to become a free agent in 2021.
What does that mean for their relationship beyond this year? Most, I’m sure, assume that it almost surely means he will be in another uniform. The Steelers talked about it being a priority to get Dupree signed to a long-term contract, but that didn’t happen. That usually indicates it’s not going to happen later on down the road, either.
There is some precedent for a player being tagged twice, though, as the Steelers just recently did it with Le’Veon Bell. The franchise tag price for outside linebackers is pretty reasonable, relative to the pay of the position and its upward ascent, so if they want to get one more year out of him, at a price 120 percent of what he will be paid this year, that is one option.
But the Steelers will be committing a bunch of money to T.J. Watt next year. Even if they can finagle a way to keep his cap hit even, the cash considerations are important too (though not for us—it’s not our money). A stagnant cap won’t help, either.
What if Dupree goes off and had a legitimate Pro Bowl-worthy season, though? What if he legitimately earns a new deal that pays him $18 million a year or so? What are the odds of us seeing this deal come into place by the middle of March?