While the Steelers are working on a new contract for cornerback Joe Haden, the club doesn’t plan to negotiate extensions for edge rusher Bud Dupree, safety Sean Davis, or defensive tackle Javon Hargrave before the start of the regular season, according to Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. All three defenders will become free agents at season’s end, but Pittsburgh isn’t planning to discuss new deals until the offseason.
The Steelers may have a myriad of reasons not to extend Dupree, Davis, and/or Hargrave, but financial concerns are almost certainly at play. Pittsburgh currently has the fourth-least amount of cap space (~$5.213MM) in the NFL, per Over the Cap, and the club’s outlook isn’t much better next year. In 2020, the Steelers project to have just $7.7MM in available funds, seventh-least in the league.
Dupree, a first-round pick in the 2015 draft, will earn more than $9MM in 2019 while playing under his fifth-year option. An athletic testing marvel coming out of Kentucky, Dupree has mostly failed to put those traits to use in the NFL. He’s posted only 20 sacks through four seasons, and last year ranked 45th among 58 qualifying edge rushers in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush productivity, which measures pressure created on a per-snap basis with an emphasis on sacks.
After spending most of his first two pro seasons closer to the line of scrimmage, Davis moved to free safety full-time in 2018, spending 779 of his 1,104 defensive snaps playing center field. The change was for the best, as Davis fared much better playing deep than he had in the box. He’s since hired super-agent Drew Rosenhaus, and noted the safety market’s recent explosion could have a commensurate effect on his next contract.
Like most run-clogging interior defenders in today’s NFL, Hargrave isn’t quite a full-time player. In each of his three seasons with the Steelers, he’s played between 43% and 50% of the club’s defensive snaps. Hargrave, who’s missed only one game in his career, could be a candidate for more passing down work in 2019 after posting 6.5 sacks and earning PFF’s 16th-highest pass-rush grade among defensive tackles last year.
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