In news that should surprise no Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan, the team has reportedly informed OLB Bud Dupree they will not be franchise tagging him this year. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he will hit free agency.
LB Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh’s franchise player last year, has been informed that he will not be franchised again this year, per league source. Dupree is headed to free agency.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2021
The odds of the Steelers franchise-tagging Dupree or any other free agent were remote. Pittsburgh simply doesn’t have enough cap space to afford the tag. Pittsburgh tagged Dupree last year and he played on the tag for the 2020 season.
Kevin Colbert essentially confirmed as much when speaking to reporters a few weeks ago. The tag wasn’t an option this offseason.
“I would say it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to use a tag,” he said last month.
Dupree is very likely to sign elsewhere this offseason. The question will be about his market value coming off a torn ACL he suffered in December. In 11 games last season, Dupree recorded eight sacks. Assuming teams aren’t concerned with him medically, he’ll be one of the top pass rushers on the market.
In replacing him, Pittsburgh will turn to Alex Highsmith, their third round pick in 2020. Highsmith impressed in his rookie season and played well replacing Dupree down the stretch. The Steelers, however, will need to search for depth behind him and TJ Watt.