INDIANAPOLIS — Perhaps the largest question mark for the Steelers this offseason is what will happen with outside linebacker Bud Dupree.
Dupree is set to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year opens in March and the Steelers have a big choice to make before then: to let him go as a free agent, try to work out a long-term extension, or to use the franchise tag.
Tuesday was the first day that the Steelers could apply the tag to Dupree, but they will not and general manager Kevin Colbert does not seem to be in a hurry to make a decision on his top pass rusher.
“Bud Dupree created a great decision for us because he had a great season,” Colbert said at the NFL Combine on Tuesday. “That’s exciting. Where we go with that? Who knows. He’s getting a feel for what a market would be. We’re getting a feel for what a market would be. We’re getting a feel for what our cap would be. We don’t know.”
A sticking point for the Steelers remains the uncertainly surrounding the exact salary cap number for 2020. No matter what it is, they will likely need to shed salary in order to either sign Dupree or use the franchise tag, which has been projected to be for over $16 million.
“We still don’t know what business we have to do,” convert said. “We don’t know that the salary cap number will be. We never do at this point. … We have projections on what we may have to do, but again, it’s all predicated on what we do, who we sign, who we may be able to cut.”
The Steelers have had a mixed history with the franchise tag, using it successfully in some cases, but unsuccessfully when running back Le’Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 season instead of signing his offer sheet.
Colbert emphasized that if the Steelers do decided to place the franchise tag on Dupree, it will be because they want to retain his rights while working out a long-term contract extension.
“Any time we do, it’s always with the intention that if we do tag a player, we’d like to get him signed to a long-term deal,” Colbert said. “We love having that option available to us and we want Bud Dupree to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”