Steelers Unlikely To Use Franchise Tag

The Steelers have one the NFL’s higher-profile groups of pending free agents but are well over the projected 2021 salary cap. They also have yet to determine how they will proceed with Ben Roethlisberger and his $41MM cap number, further complicating matters.

Longtime starters Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Alejandro Villanueva and Mike Hilton are a month from free agency. The Steelers could keep one of these players off the market with the franchise tag, but GM Kevin Colbert said Wednesday (via’s Bob Labriola, on Twitter) it is doubtful the team uses the tag this year

Dupree received the tag last year but suffered a torn ACL midway through the season. The Steelers had a worse tag experience in 2018, when Le’Veon Bell did not report and skipped the season. The team has used its franchise tag in three of the past four years, with Bell being tagged twice.

Prior to any Roethlisberger resolution, the Steelers are $30MM-plus over a projected $180MM cap. While the cap may come in a bit higher, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to precede a significant cap reduction. This will be only the second time the cap has gone down in its near-30-year history. Barring extensions in the next month, the free agent market will be flush with recent Steeler first-stringers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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17 comments on “Steelers Unlikely To Use Franchise Tag

  1. arty!

    None in that FA group is worth the tag. Budget is one thing, keeping valuable players is another. Out of them, AV had the longest career and was good. But he got abused by both Cinny (night game) and Cleveland in the playoffs.

  2. leefieux

    Shocking news! In other news, the Summer Equinox will occur some time in June.

  3. yanks2323

    As a Steelers fan for over 40 years, all signs are pointing to a complete reset. They can let everyone walk and will still be over the cap and with no succession at QB and they have to pay TJ at end of next year.

    • louwhitakerisahofer

      So… you recall the reset in the early 80s. It always an unfortunate situation watching your guys playing out their careers in another uniform. Hopefully they can convince Ben to retire (just like Polamalu).

      • bush5104

        Polamalu was smart and left on his own terms. Ben’s too stupid and wants a moneygrab season….making his final season, yet again, all about him.

        • frustratedpittsburghpiratesfan

          Actual Ben renegotiated his contract at the Steelers request. Thus, pushing money to a later day. It’s like running up the credit cards and then refinancing with a convient

          • frustratedpittsburghpiratesfan

            ( from the previous comment),Convenient check. Eventually you still have to pay the bill. If Ben retires there is still significant dead money because of money being pushed out.

  4. Busta607

    Steelers are only about 15 million over the cap. It was 30 million before Pouncey and Mcdonald retired.

      • Busta607

        Not all of it. They save 8 million with Pouncy and 5.2 million with Mcdonald. Spotrac site has already updated it with the Steelers $14.2 million above the cap. Not 30.

  5. frustratedpittsburghpiratesfan

    The Steelers had a good run and won 2 Super Bowls in last 15 years with several playoff appearances.Had a great shot at a 3rd but, the selfishness of Bell and Brown ( Pay the man mentality and both being divas) didn’t work out so well.

  6. Simmons>Russ

    Steelers need to take a RB in the first or second round. Think that would go along way to fixing some of their issues. Big Ben was old and making loads of throws per game and his receivers weren’t that amazing towards the end of the year. They probably have a small little rebuild coming soon and I think a key part would be having a RB set for a new QB. Takes pressure of the QB and receivers and it’s someone you can build around. They need to try find the next Barkley/Chubb/Jacobs

    • You build a run game by building the offensive line first. You can have a solid run game with a good offensive line and an above average running back. Stud running backs may win you games in the regular season but you won’t win a super bowl building around one and regardless of how good they are, paying one big money after his rookie deal is a waste.

  7. Jimbobroy

    Average RB can look great behind a great offensive line. Just look at what Bell has done since he left that great o-line behind! Build the o-line first.

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