The start of the 2021 NFL league year is now just eight days away and that means there are just six days remaining before the legal free agent tampering period begins. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a robust group of players set to become unrestricted free agents next week and leading that list are wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and outside linebacker Bud Dupree. Will the Steelers be able to re-sign either of them? Bob Labriola, who covers the team for steelers.com, doesn’t see either being re-signed.
In his daily Asked and Answered post Tuesday morning on the Steelers website, Labriola was asked if the recently redone contract signed by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will allow the team to re-sign either Smith-Schuster or Dupree and his answer was straight and to the point.
“No,” answered Labriola.
So, there you go and Labriola’s answer isn’t too surprising considering all that we know up until Tuesday morning. For starters, the Steelers have just $2,997,086 in 2021 salary cap space based on a league-wide number of $180 million and that’s after the recently signed exclusive rights tender that center J.C. Hassenauer executed a few days ago. The Steelers are still expected to clear more salary cap space in the next few days and we also should find out what the NFL’s official number for the 2021 season will be before March 17.
If the Steelers should somehow find a way to re-sign either Smith-Schuster or Dupree, they more than likely won’t be able to get both back in the fold. It will likely be one or the other or as Labriola predicts, neither.
Smith-Schuster is going to get paid big in the next week by some team and probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 million per season. Dupree should get himself a nice bag at some point in the near future as well, but his market value is much tougher to tab with him still rehabbing his surgically repaired right ACL that he injured in early December.
So, what do we do in the meantime and now that all the speculation about the speculation of the Steelers unrestricted free agents is about over with? We wait. However, you believe Labriola’s answer to the question he received about Smith-Schuster’s and Dupree’s future, there is no reason to wait at all. He firmly believes both won’t be re-signed.