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The Steelers use the franchise tag on OLB Bud Dupree

After weeks of speculation, the Steelers have used the franchise tag in order to secure Dupree for the 2020 season

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

In a move many have been anticipating all offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers have placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree.

The Steelers first round draft pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Dupree did not exactly live up to his high draft status his first four years in Pittsburgh. Playing under his fifth year option, Dupree had a breakout season in 2019 where he notched 11.5 sacks which was equal to his two previous seasons combined. Last season Dupree also added four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 68 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, and 16 tackles for loss which were all career highs.

Although Dupree now has the option of signing the one-year contract for just under $16 million, the Steelers would ultimately like to work out a long-term deal. With a yearly payout hopefully under that of the franchise tag, the Steelers would also like to keep the first year of Dupree’s contract as team friendly as possible as they attempt to negotiate around the NFL’s salary cap. The Steelers have until 4 PM on July 15 in order to work out a long-term deal as long as Dupree does not sign his contract.

It is unclear at this time if the Steelers have used the exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag. By using the exclusive franchise tag, Dupree would not be able to negotiate with any other team for the 2020 season. Neither him or his representation could work out any kind of deal other than with the Pittsburgh Steelers. If he wants a long-term deal, Dupree can only do so in Pittsburgh this offseason.

If the Steelers were to use the non-exclusive franchise tag, Dupree could seek out a deal from another NFL franchise if any would be interested. If so, the Steelers would have the option to match the offer if they choose. If not, the Steelers would receive Dupree’s new team’s next two first round selections in the NFL draft.

Now that the Steelers have used the franchise tag, they must clear the salary cap space by the beginning on the league year which is scheduled to begin March 18 at 4 PM EST. Currently $3 million over the salary cap, the Steelers must now get at least $19 million off the books before the new league year. With restricted free agent tenders still to offer, the Steelers will now undergo the difficult task of becoming salary cap compliant.

Stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

UPDATE: The franchise tag used on the Bud Dupree was the non-exclusive tag according to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly.