“Make no mistake, Bud Dupree is a priority for us,” — Steelers head Coach Mike Tomlin said in January
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been operating all off-season with the mindset that one way or another, OLB Bud Dupree would be a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2020.
So to the surprise of no one, the Steelers today placed the franchise tag on Dupree. If the two sides can’t agree to a long-term extension, Dupree will play on a $15.8 million tag in 2020, something the Steelers are cautiously optimistic they’ll avoid.
It took a while, but the Steelers finally got rewarded for selecting Dupree in the first round of the 2014 draft as Dupree exploded in 2019 with a breakout season, registering a career-high 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss and added four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Dupree and All-Pro T.J. Watt formed the best 1-2 outside linebacker combo in 2019 and while many have argued that Dupree was a product of Watt and others have argued ‘why not go the Patriot way’ and opt not spend big money on front-seven pass rushers, there was too much risk for the Steelers to walk away from Dupree.
Pittsburgh has a window here when they believe for the first time in a decade they have a Super Caliber defense that with even just average to above average quarterback play, they are going to be a legitimate threat in the AFC. They don’t want to mess that up but letting young talent walk out at the door and the lack of depth at OLB was problematic,
What this means for the cap situation, just let it all play out. There’s always panic among the fan base on the Steelers cap situation every off-season for no reason. There’s a number of ways to create room at their disposal without subtracting anyone of real significance.