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Could Bud Dupree be a tag-and-trade candidate for the Steelers?

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have a third, but risky, option when it comes to Bud Dupree heading into 2020.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

When the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base talks about the future of Bud Dupree with the organization, it usually focuses on one of three potential options:

  • Sign Dupree to a new, long-term contract.
  • Franchise tag Dupree to ensure he provides the same production in 2020 as the did in 2019.
  • Let him walk and hit free agency.

Those three options are the most common when it pertains to a player like Dupree, but what if there was a fourth option? An option which could be risky, if the Steelers have no interest in bringing Dupree back, but could see them get something other than a compensatory pick for losing Dupree’s skill set.

This fourth option would be the tag-and-trade option. In other words, the Steelers would place the franchise tag on Dupree, only to then try and trade his rights away to an organization who will want to sign him to a long-term deal.

Sound far-fetched? Not really. In fact, it has become more popular in the past few seasons.

As ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio points out, “Last year, a pair of elite pass rushers were tagged then traded, with the Chiefs shipping Dee Ford to the 49ers for a 2020 second-round pick and the Chiefs then acquiring Frank Clark from the 49ers, for a first-round pick in 2019, a second-round pick in 2020, and a swap of 2019 third-rounders.

Ford signed a five-year, $85 million deal in San Francisco, and Clark signed a five-year, $104 million deal.”

There are plenty of logistics to discuss when throwing Dupree into the mix for a tag-and-trade player. First, Dupree has to be considered the caliber of player who is worthy of making such a trade. Second, the Steelers would have to face the fact they could potentially have to bite the bullet on Dupree for 2020 if they don’t find a trade partner.

For this to take place, the Steelers would still have to clear roughly $16 million in salary cap space to place the franchise tag on Dupree. If Dupree is traded, that space would become cap space for the Steelers they could use on their own accord. But if there isn’t a trade, like Ford and Clark last year, the Steelers would have Dupree’s services for the 2020 season, and let’s not pretend having that would be the end of the world.

The benefit to this tag-and-trade would be the Steelers could potentially rack up more capital than just a compensatory pick for watching Dupree walk via free agency. Just look at what Ford and Clark were able to bring for teams who traded them away. Talk about draft stock!

Is this an option for the Steelers? Absolutely it is, but how realistic it is comes down to how other teams view Dupree as a player. Is he a one-year wonder with his 11.5 sacks in 2019? Or is this the new Dupree fans are just getting a glimpse of? Pass rushers who put up double-digit sacks don’t grow on trees, so the Steelers would be wise to listen if a team calls inquiring about Dupree’s services in 2020.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for another lengthy offseason.