The Steelers have placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree, the team announced on Monday.
Dupree, 27, will have the option on whether or not to sign the franchise tender, a one-year contract offer that will be worth approximately $16 million.
The Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Dupree had a career year in 2019, with 68 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to go along with 17 quarterback hurries, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The sacks and tackles for loss both represented career highs and he led the team in tackles for loss.
Dupree’s five-year rookie had been set to expire on Wednesday, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. That will now not happen, as Dupree will either play the 2020 season under the tag or sign a long-term contact with the Steelers. He also has the right to sit out the season, as Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did in 2018.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said at the NFL Combine that when the team uses the franchise tag, they do so with the intention of signing a player to a long-term deal.
“Bud created a great decision for us because he had a great season,” Colbert said. “That’s exciting. … We love having [the franchise tag] option available to us, but we want Bud Dupree to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
The Steelers and Dupree will have until July 15 to negotiate an extension. If they are unable to come to an agreement at that time, he will have to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag or not at all.
The Steelers will also have to find a way to get salary cap compliant before can Dupree sign either the tag deal or an extension.