With the deadline for all NFL teams having passed in which to reach long-term deals with players they had issued a franchise tag tender to (4 p.m. Wednesday), it appears that the Pittsburgh Steelers and 27-year-old outside linebacker Bud Dupree, a player we mentioned earlier this week as being on the potential hot seat for 2020, were unable to come to terms. Dupree recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks opposite T.J. Watt last season.
Although Dupree has been open in discussions surrounding whether or not he would like to remain with the Steelers, there are questions about how willing the Steelers would be to negotiate after he filed a grievance last week, the contention being that he should be tendered the amount offered to defensive ends ($17.788 million) as opposed to the $15.82 million he agreed to when he signed his franchise-tag tender in April, making his contract binding with the Steelers for the 2020 NFL season.
Dupree has never been asked to line up at defensive end, nor has he played any snaps at that position, while he has been with the Steelers, so it is unclear if his grievance will be seen as legitimate or not, at this point. What is clear is that if Dupree is to remain in Pittsburgh beyond this season, the team will have to wait until March (2021) to once again pull a chair to the negotiation table to sign him to a contract extension when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers can choose to offer Dupree a franchise-tag tender once again or sign him to a contract at that time. They can also choose to cut ties.
Earlier in the offseason, before all of the COVID-19 uncertainty, general manager Kevin Colbert admitted that the team had sent the message to Dupree that they wanted to make a deal with him. "Our message has been consistently, 'Hey, Bud, if we use the franchise tag, our goal is still to sign you and get you locked up as a Steelers for the rest of your career.'"
With circumstances in flux over threats that the 2020 NFL season may be disrupted, many NFL teams were unable to negotiate successfully, or meet the deadline. In addition to Dupree, there were 11 other players who were franchise-tagged that did not get long-term deals, including Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys), A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals), Justin Simmons (Denver Broncos), Yannick Ngakoue (Jacksonville Jaguars), Joe Thuney (New England Patriots), Brandon Scherff (Washington), Hunter Henry (L.A. Chargers), Leonard Williams (N.Y. Giants), Anthony Harris (Minnesota Vikings), Matthew Judon (Baltimore Ravens), and Shaquil Barrett (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).