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Steelers not wary about tagging LB Bud Dupree, but it’s complicated

Outside linebacker Bud Dupree wants to be a Steeler. The Pittsburgh Steelers want Dupree to remain a Steeler, too.

To make that happen with their cap constraints this year, the Steelers’ will likely have to apply a tag (franchise or transition) on the unrestricted free agent by the time the franchise tagging window closes Monday morning.

“Bud created a great decision for us because he had a great season,” general manager Kevin Colbert said at the NFL combine last month. “That’s exciting. Where we go with that, who knows. He’s getting a feel for what a market would be, we’re getting a feel for what a market would be. We’re getting a feel for what our cap would be. We don’t know. We love having that option [the tag] available to us. We want Bud Dupree to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”

Dupree said much of the same at the conclusion of the regular season.

“You always want to finish what you start,” he said after the loss to the Ravens. “That lets you know you had a good career. And a way to let people know who believe in you.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Though the Steelers’ recent history with applying the tag might suggest otherwise, Colbert told reporters in Indianapolis he isn’t worried about mixed outcomes from previous tags affecting their decision on Dupree. The Steelers, of course, tagged running back Le’Veon Bell in consecutive seasons after failing to reach a long-term agreement in 2017.

Estimates on OverTheCap.com for the 2020 franchise tags project linebackers to cost about $16.2 million. A non-exclusive franchise tag allows other teams to negotiate deals with Dupree, while also allowing the Steelers a chance to match the offer. If the Steelers don’t match, they receive two first-round picks in compensation. An exclusive franchise tag, like the one used on Bell, allows only the Steelers to negotiate with Dupree.3

Under a transition tag, which stipulates that the team wouldn’t receive any compensation if it doesn’t match an offer from another team, a linebacker would run about $14 million. The tag gives the team until July 15 to reach a long-term deal with Dupree. If the two sides don’t reach a deal by then, Dupree would play the season under the tag before becoming a free agent again next year. The Steelers could also opt to tag and trade Dupree in a move similar to the one made by the Kansas City Chiefs when they tagged Dee Ford a season ago and promptly traded him to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Steelers have applied a tag 10 other times and have had mixed results with the process. Four tags resulted in long-term deals, though only one — safety Carnell Lake — played out his contract. The other six kept the player in a Steelers uniform for a maximum of one season. Kicker Jeff Reed, tagged prior to the 2010 season, was even cut midway through his franchise-tag season.nfl nike jersey cheap

In 2017, Bell played under the tag with a $12.12 million value after he declined the Steelers’ offer worth $42 million over the first three years. A year later, he was tagged again, but refused to sign the $14.54 million tender after the two sides again didn’t agree to a long-term deal by the deadline, and he sat out the entire season.

Dupree, who previously indicated he would sign the tag if the Steelers use it, would become the fourth outside linebacker to be tagged by the organization. The Steelers, though, haven’t had sustained success with the tagged outside linebackers. Two inked long-term deals but didn’t play out their contracts, and the other played one year under the tag before retiring.