Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree will play the 2020 season under the franchise tag, after he and the organization were unable to reach a long-term contract by Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
Dupree will now play the upcoming season under a one-year, $15.8 million deal, as the Steelers look to see if he can duplicate his breakout performance from 2019.
A first-round pick out of the University of Kentucky in 2015, Dupree finally found his footing last year, recording 16 tackles-for-loss, 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Still, last season was just one year, and Pittsburgh had seen a lot of underwhelming play from Dupree over his Pittsburgh tenure. By signing Dupree to the franchise tender, the Steelers can find out if this version of him is here to stay, or if 2019 was just a flash in the pan.
If the 27-year-old has another strong season off the edge, the Steelers can always attempt to sign him to a long-term deal again next offseason when he hits free agency. Keeping Dupree in Pittsburgh appears to be the ultimate goal of the organization. General manager Kevin Colbert said as much at the NFL Combine back in February before the team decided to tag Dupree.
“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.”
Although he did sign the tag in April, there is still uncertainty with regards to exactly how much Dupree will be paid. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported last Friday that Dupree filed a grievance with the NFLPA over his positional designation with regards to the tender. If he is classified as a defensive end, he will make over $2 million more this season than he would being listed as an outside linebacker.
Regardless of the outcome of the grievance, Dupree has already agreed play football in Pittsburgh in 2020.
Now, they only question remaining is if he will continue playing for the Steelers beyond this season.