With the conclusion of the 2019 NFL season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are several players who are entering the unfamiliar territory of free agency this off-season. Particularly, defensive starters Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave are two pieces of the Steelers much-improved defense which would be great to keep in tact. The biggest issue is, as usual, will the price be right for both parties?
On Monday, Dupree answered questions from the Pittsburgh media to close out the 2019 season. Expressing a desire to continue to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dupree acknowledged that this is a business and that both sides will need to do what is best for them.
Soon-to-be FA Bud Dupree wants to remain a Steeler. He's played himself into a significant contract, but PIT may not be able to pay it due to cap constraints.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) December 30, 2019
"You always want to finish what you start. ... But, at the end of the day, the new NFL, it's... https://t.co/ijyhSgPkWl
2019 was a breakout year for Dupree as he played on this team‘s fifth year option from where he was drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft. Almost doubling his previous season high in sacks, Dupree finished with 11.5 along with 17 quarterback hits, 68 tackles, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
One option the Steelers have going forward with Dupree is using the franchise or transition tag for 2020. But due to his position, it would not be cheap for the Steelers to use either designation as it is projected to be around $19 million for the franchise tag and $16 million for the transition tag according to overthecap.com. When asked if he would be opposed to the Steelers using the tag for him, Dupree acknowledged he would handle the situation unlike his former teammate Le’Veon Bell.
“It’s two different franchise tags. I’d probably handle mine a little different than what Le’Veon did.”
Dupree’s time with the media can be seen below following T.J. Watt’s comments below courtesy of Steelers.com.
T.J. Watt "Defensively, I am very proud of a lot of things we were able to do this year."@_TJWatt & @Bud_Dupree spoke to the media today about the growth of the defense and Dupree's future. pic.twitter.com/7ihYVN92yK— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 31, 2019
Another key component to the Steelers defense who is eligible to head free agency is nose tackle Javon Hargrave. Drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft, Hargrave has appeared in all but one game in his Steelers’ career. In an article published by ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on Monday, Hargrave was quoted as wanting to stay in Pittsburgh beyond 2019.
Hargrave continued: “I just love being a part of this. I’ve been doing it for four years now, basically the same guys I came with. So of course, I just know it’s going to be a bounce-back season for us next year. Of course I want to be a part of that.” #Steelers https://t.co/kwnhAaeNsd— Blitzburgh (@SteelBlitzburgh) December 30, 2019
With Stephon Tuitt’s season ending injury in 2019, Hargrave saw an increased amount of snaps on defense as he played both the nose tackle and defensive tackle positions. After notching 6.5 sacks in 2018, Hargrave added another four this season. While the sacks may have decreased, the number of tackles saw a jump from 49 in 2018 to 60 in 2019.
The entire article from Pryor can be seen here: