PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are walking into the offseason with two dozen free agents and a large salary cap deficit to figure out.
As the Steelers wait for the NFL to finalize a salary cap number, they're beginning to evaluate potential re-signings. At the top of that list sits Bud Dupree. The 28-year-old outside linebacker has become a staple of the team's pass rush, accumulating eight sacks, eight tackles for loss and 15 quarterback hits in 11 games this season.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert admitted keeping Dupree will be difficult because of the salary cap, but the team will not rule out the possibility.
"We're never going to eliminate a great player like Bud Dupree, because we don't know what Bud's market is, and Bud doesn't know what his market is at this point," Colbert told reporters on Wednesday. "I think that's pretty common for not only our free agents but the whole free agency group until we get a solid cap number."
Colbert said the Steelers are "doubtful" to use a franchise tag this offseason, as they try to eliminate their -$14 million cap budget. Dupree played under a $15.8 million tag in 2020.
"We have to adjust and know that he might be a possibility, he might not be," Colbert said on Dupree. "Only time will tell with that."
Colbert did acknowledge that keeping Dupree would assure the Steelers' defense doesn't take a dip in production. Dupree and Watt have combined for 49 sacks in the last two seasons.
"We would love to be able to keep a Bud Dupree," Colbert said. "Bud's a special player, but Bud and T.J. together, that's a special group."