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Predicting a long-term deal for Bud Dupree with the Steelers

If the Steelers and Dupree come to terms rather than play under the franchise tag, what would it look like?

NFL: DEC 15 Bills at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 offseason has progressed appropriately since the beginning of the league year. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, the Steelers were able to restructure contracts, offer tenders, use the franchise tag, sign free agents, make their draft selections, and get their undrafted rookie free agents under contract. With a focus on getting their draftees under contract in the coming weeks, the Steelers will also be looking to sign some players to either a new contract or a contract extension.

While some of these new deals may not come until the summer, it’s not out of the question for player representatives and the Steelers to be working on something now. With that said, which Steelers going into the last year of the current deal are likely to be given a new contract before the 2020 season begins?

Rather than focus on all the players, let’s tackle one at a time. With each player, it will first be determined if they should receive a new deal along with how much would be a fair contract to both parties. This exercise is meant to just be fun and speculative as we all get to play general manager and salary cap guru for a day.

If you wish to give a basic contract answer without diving too deep into numbers, simply skip over the italicized section. If you are the kind of person who would like to see how the contract would affect the salary cap, here it is...

Coming up with an exact contract can be tricky. Rather than get into roster and work out bonuses or different amounts per season, we’re going to estimate the salaries as simply as possible. For whatever deal the player gets, the first year will have all but $1 million put into a signing bonus which will get spread over the life of the contract. For example, if a player were to sign a three-year contract for $10 million per year, the first year would have a $1 million base salary and a $9 million signing bonus. Therefore, the bonus would be spread out to $3 million over each season where the player would count $4 million dollars for 2020 and $13 million for the other two years.

One other factor which needs to be considered is if the player brings any dead money from the previous contract. To account for this in a simple manner, throw it into the salary cap hit for the first year of the players deal. Using the above example, if a player had $4 million in dead money on their last contract, the salary cap hit for their first year would be $8 million.

After looking at a deal for Cam Heyward, now let’s see what kind of contract Steelers’ fans would like to work out with Bud Dupree rather than play the 2020 season on the franchise tag.

Bud Dupree

Age: Turned 27 in February
Years: 5
Draft: 1st Round, pick 22 in 2015
Previous Contract: Rookie contract with a 5th year option of $9.232 million
2020 salary cap hit: $15.828 million (2nd highest on the Steelers)
Dead Money: None

Other top contracts average per year (AYP) at the position (3-4 OLB) according to

Khalil Mack: $23.5 million
Von Miller: $19.1 million
Za’Darius Smith: $16.5 million
Chandler Jones: $16.5 million

Dupree ranked 24th among edge rushers in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus. Here are the players under contract who ranked closely to Dupree:

19. Trey Flowers: $18 million
21. Olivier Vernon: $17 million
23. Von Miller: $19.1 million
25. Shaquil Barrett: $15.828 million (franchise tag)
27. Trent Murphy: $7.5 million
28. Melvin Ingram III: $16 million

Notes: Although Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert has been quoted many times saying their goal is to sign Bud Dupree to a long-term deal before the 2020 season, the numbers are quite concerning. Knowing the Steelers are going to have to pay fellow edge rusher T.J. Watt within the next year or two looms over the Dupree contract situation. Locking in Dupree with an AYP less than that of the franchise tag would be ideal, but looking at the numbers of some of the edge rusher‘s ranked similar to him could lead to Dupree demanding more money than the Steelers are willing to pay.

So now it’s deal time! Perhaps the first question should be a completely different game show: Deal or no deal? Should the Steelers look to lock up Bud Dupree long term? If so, what should the deal look like? Please leave your response with the number of years and the average salary per season in the comments below.

Next time on Let’s Make A Deal: JuJu Smith-Schuster.