Each offseason, particularly before the NFL's free agency period begins, teams must begin to consider which of their upcoming season unrestricted free agents will receive contract extensions and return for the season. That being said, it's commonplace to look ahead to the following free agent candidates and begin working on extensions for 2021. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, these three impending free agents will be on the itinerary for next offseason.
3. Bud Dupree
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree would have hit the free agent market in 2020 had the Steelers not placed the franchise tag on him prior to the deadline. The team has expressed a desire to keep No. 48 in Pittsburgh for the rest of his career, but with their limited salary cap space in 2021 and T.J. Watt's fifth-year option being picked up with an eye toward a big future extension, he may have to find pasture elsewhere. Dupree finished last season with 49 solo tackles and 11.5 sacks, and if he can turn in a similar performance in 2020, the Steelers will have a harder time saying no.
2. Cam Sutton
Cameron Sutton could get some consideration for a contract extension before 2021, but his value could depend on what the Steelers decide to do with Joe Haden, who is also an impending free agent. Sutton has been a serviceable backup cornerback for the team the last two seasons, but he does have some competition for reps with Mike Hilton. If he can increase his production this year, he'll be worth a fair-market deal.
1. JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster has to be high on the Steelers' free agency priority list as he enters the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2017. It may seem obvious that Pittsburgh will bring him back, but the cost might not be worth it unless Smith Schuster rebounds in 2020. Last season, he tallied 42 receptions for 552 yards and 3 touchdowns in 12 games, and could find himself competing for the No. 1 receiver spot with Diontae Johnson or James Washington, so he will need to show up as his 2018 self to win the cash next offseason.