The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a bad way as far as the salary cap is concerned. It might be some time yet before we know just how bad it is, however, because that will be determined by what the salary cap figure comes in at, which could range anywhere from $175 million—the agreed upon floor—or up to around $200 million, which would be roughly flat from this past season.
$25 million is a huge gray area to be working with, and that uncertainty clouds the conversations for every team when it comes to which of their pending free agents they might be able to keep, or might want to keep based on other needs. And for some teams like the Steelers, it will also determine whether or not they have to cut ties with anybody to make ends meet.
Still, sometimes there are priorities so great that you have to work around everything else to fit that in. One would think that that would be about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but based on general manager Kevin Colbert’s comments—it’s not. Roethlisberger is the cart, and the horse is their salary cap situation. And they want to make sure they’re not putting the cart first on this one.
On the other hand, Colbert wouldn’t put the question of retaining six-year veteran outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who is coming off of a string of successful campaigns over the past two seasons, but who suffered a torn ACL in the second half of the year.
Having already played under the franchise tag in 2020, Dupree is potentially set to earn a good deal of money for himself, but that will depend upon how teams assess his knee injury. If he finds a lukewarm market full of potential suitors who are hesitant to pull the trigger on a long-term deal with high guarantees, he may have to settle for a more short-term arrangement.
“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”, he said earlier today, via Noah Strackbein of Sports Illustrated. “We have to adjust and know that he might be a possibility, he might not be. Only time will tell with that”.
According to earlier reports, it is within the realm of possibility that teams will not know what the final salary cap number will be until hours before the new league year, and free agency, begins. This will force teams to take a conservative approach to their free agents if they can’t know how much cap space they have to work with.
In 27 games over the past two seasons, Dupree has recorded 19.5 sacks along with 32 hits, 99 tackles, six forced fumbles, two recoveries, and five passes defensed, along with 24 tackles for loss. He was well on his way to a second double-digit-sack season in 2020, with eight in 11 games, before suffering his injury.