Linebacker Bud Dupree has signed his franchise tender, according to an announcement from the Steelers. Assuming he’s tagged as a linebacker, Dupree will be slated to earn over $16MM. If he pushes back and manages to get tagged at the defensive end position, he’ll be set for $18MM+.
Of course, Dupree and the Steelers will have until July 15 to hash out a long-term contract regardless of the tag value, and given that Pittsburgh is right up against the cap, both player and team are likely hoping they can get that done. Though Dupree had not exactly lived up to his billing as a 2015 first-round draft choice prior to the 2019 campaign, he had a terrific platform year, piling up a career-best 11.5 sacks while also displaying some ability in setting the edge against the run.
Though there was some thought that the Steelers could look to trade Dupree after slapping him with the franchise tag, that no longer appears to be in play. Instead, the club will head into the 2020 campaign (and probably beyond) with a fearsome Dupree-T.J. Watt combo that will keep opposing QBs awake at night. Indeed, the Steelers ranked third in defensive DVOA last season (first against the pass), and if they can get a healthy season out of QB Ben Roethlisberger, they could certainly make a return trip to the playoffs.
If the two sides do work out a multi-year pact, it would not be surprising to see the Kentucky product land something in the neighborhood of a five-year, $80MM deal, with around $30MM or so fully-guaranteed. That might seem high for a player who hasn’t made a Pro Bowl yet, but given the importance of edge rushers and Dupree’s well-timed breakout, it would be in line with his open market value.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.