Bud Dupree's future in Pittsburgh remains hazy after the Steelers were unable to sign the outside linebacker to a long-term deal ahead of Wednesday's deadline to sign franchise-tagged players to a multiyear contract.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported he was one of 12 players who couldn't agree to an extension before the 4 p.m. ET cutoff.
The Steelers used the franchise tag on Dupree this offseason, which will pay him $15.8 million in 2020 on a one-year deal. The 6'4", 269-pounder also filed a grievance to be classified as a defensive end, which would raise his salary to $17.8 million next season.
In either case, he will be a free agent once again in 2021.
The 27-year-old had a career year for the Steelers in 2019, registering 68 tackles (16 for loss), 11.5 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His partnership with T.J. Watt (14.5 sacks) gave the Steelers one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL and one of the most dominant defenses.
The Steelers finished fifth in yards (304.1) and sixth in points allowed (18.9) per game. They led the NFL with 54 sacks.
In Pro Football Focus' list of the top 100 players in the NFL last season, six Steelers defensive players made the list: Watt (sixth), defensive linemen Cameron Heyward (10th) and Javon Hargrave (68th), cornerback Steven Nelson (86th) and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (94th).
Only Hargrave is gone from that unit after signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency.
Losing both Hargrave and Dupree in free agency would have been a major blow, so the Steelers chose to use the franchise tag on the latter.
It also seemed likely the two sides would work out a long-term extension before Wednesday. As general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in February: "We want Bud Dupree to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler."
The two sides have a long way to go to make this happen, with Dupree only under team control for one more year.