Today is July 14, 2020. Tomorrow is July 15, 2020. That date is the deadline—at 4PM, specifically—by which point any team who has placed a franchise or transition tag on a player must have a deal put in place and delivered to the NFL headquarters if they want to get that player under contract for a long-term extension before 2021.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are among the teams who fall into this group, as they placed the franchise tag on Bud Dupree, the sixth-year outside linebacker, early this offseason. While he signed it shortly before the start of the 2020 NFL Draft, he has filed a grievance through the NFLPA arguing that he should be tagged as a defensive end, which pays a couple million more, rather than as a linebacker, based on where he lines up.
That grievance is immaterial to whether or not he and the Steelers complete a long-term contract extension, and would be rendered null in the event that that does happen. But with a number of players under the tag without new deals, the expectation is that no more than one or two will actually get an extension done.
According to Adam Schefter, quoting a source, “one or two deals, at most” are likely to be done in time for tomorrow’s deadline, among the 15 teams who have applied the franchise or transition tag to one of their players.
There are 15 tagged NFL players – 14 franchised, one transitioned – that have until Wednesday to sign long-term deals and yet there might be “one or two deals, at most,” per a league source. The pandemic, and lack of financial clarity, are crippling hopes for long-term deals.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 13, 2020
That includes a large number of players who have placed the tag on pass rushers, the Baltimore Ravens with Matthew Judon, the Jacksonville Jaguars with Yannick Ngakoue, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Shaquil Barrett being among them.
The fact that none of them have gotten a deal done also means that there is no precedent that one could set for the others, which strains negotiations. But the biggest complicating factor for this particular season is the uncertainties stemming from the pandemic, according to Schefter, which is creating financial insecurity.
The most prominent player who was tagged this offseason is Dak Prescott, the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Reportedly, Prescott prefers a four-year deal, while the Cowboys would rather give him a five-year contract, but a deal could still be done.
While deadlines inspire compromise, for the moment, it doesn’t appear likely that the Steelers and Dupree will be able to work out a long-term deal, which will mean that for the second straight season he will be playing in a ‘contract year’.
The former first-round pick produced a career-high 11.5 sacks last season with four forced fumbled, generally taking his game to another level. The Steelers have nobody else on the roster other than T.J. Watt who has any meaningful experience at this position, so if they lose him next offseason, they will have to develop somebody.