The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Bud Dupree
Position: Outside Linebacker
Experience: 3 Years
Bud Dupree is probably one of the most disliked players on the Steelers right now, with Mike Mitchell the only one I can say for sure who is more of a whipping boy. There are segments of the fan base who might have an especial interest in one player or another, with Artie Burns and Sean Davis being denounced, but criticism of Dupree is pretty universal in a way that the criticism of the young defensive backs is not.
Unfortunately, I can’t say that much of it isn’t unwarranted. While he has made strides since his rookie season—and he did have more success in generating pressure than he is given credit for—the reality is that what he has produced to date is not representative to what he should be able to produce, nor would such play ordinarily guarantee a starting job.
Apologists would say that he has spent most of his career playing injured. He worked his way back from sports hernia surgery after missing most of the 2016 season and he played through a shoulder injury this past season that kept him out much of training camp, the preseason, and even the first game of the regular season.
That might explain some of it, but not all of it. And the most maddening thing for me remains the fact that he is so woefully inconsistent. He is capable of doing everything that he is supposed to do, but for as many times as he plays the run perfectly and blows up a play in the backfield, he also gets blown out of alignment perhaps twice as often.
The 2018 season is the make-or-break period for Dupree, and I would hope that he knows it. The Steelers have to decide whether or not they will pick up his fifth-year option. While my sense from local reporters is that they will, doing so would not amount to much if he does not play in a manner that earns it.
If he does not make strides in his fourth season, then he will be released if given the fifth-year option before it is made guaranteed. What happens after that is less certain.