Five Steelers players who might be finished in Pittsburgh
This one is not a cap casualty but rather may just not work into the cap space situation for 2020. The Steelers have the option to franchise tag Dupree after his successful 2019 contract season.
Dupree has been a late bloomer and bit by the injury bug in his young career but finally, put together a solid season last year with career highs in every statistical category in 2019.
Some are weary to reward him with a big deal after a contract year but Dupree has not been as bad as people seem to believe. The stat sheet has not been stuffed in his career prior to last season but, he has improved every season after being drafted as a raw athlete in 2015.
His run defense has been there for much of his career and was nothing short of great in 2019. According to PFF, he finished with a 75.0 grade in run defense to go with his uptick in sack totals.
Dupree has benefited from being switched to the right side of the defense and playing opposite T.J. Watt. He also benefited from not having to drop back in coverage as much as past years due to a much improved defensive backfield.
The Steelers reaped the benefits of his production uptick and formed one of the best pass-rushing duos in 2019 with he and Watt combining for 26.0 sacks on the year. Dupree also will reap those benefits in free agency if the Steelers choose not to tag him or negotiate a long-term deal.
By cutting the four players mentioned in this article, the Steelers can raise their cap space from just under $1.6 million to roughly $19.5 million. They can use that money to help structure a deal for Dupree to stay in Pittsburgh but it will be tough.
The Steelers could also restructure contracts like Big Ben’s and Stephon Tuitt‘s to ease some of the pressure on the cap. Everything should be on the table to save money and field the best team possible in 2020.
Javon Hargrave gets an honorable mention as he is set to hit free agency. He has quietly risen to one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL and has certainly priced himself out of the steel city.
The Steelers have many decisions to make but the five players listed above could likely all be playing for new teams in 2020. This Steelers offseason will be an important one for them to maximize the window left with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.