2018 Offseason Questions: Are Steelers Really Undecided On Dupree’s Option?

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: Do the Steelers really not yet know if they will pick up Bud Dupree’s option? Could the draft affect that decision?

If you listened to Kevin Colbert yesterday, or if you read the site, you will have seen (or read) that the Steelers’ general manager said that the team has not get made a decision as to whether or not they will pick up the fifth-year option for 2015 first-round draft pick Bud Dupree.

The outside linebacker has started 24 of 38 games over the course of his first three seasons, recording 14 and a half sacks in that span. He posted a career-high six sacks in 2017, which came in 15 starts after he missed the season opener due to a shoulder injury.

The process of making the decision to pick up the fifth-year option is frequently over- or undersimplified by those who discuss it, and does not only boil down to answering a question like ‘has this player earned X salary in his fifth season based on his first three seasons’.

The fifth-year option is something of a projection of where you expect a player to be in his fifth season, since you have to decide after his third. Importantly, the salary for the fifth year does not become guaranteed except in the case of injury until the start of the new league year of his fifth season, so he can be released at any point prior to that in order to wipe out the deal entirely (though that also removes any potential compensatory pick value).

It would seem unusual for a team, especially one like Pittsburgh, to be unsure at this stage in the game about whether or not they want to pick up a player’s option, which just a couple of weeks remaining before the decision has to be made.

It’s not as though the evaluation process hasn’t already taken place. They either believe he might be worth it or they don’t. And if they don’t, they would probably draft somebody to replace him. So why wait until after the draft if you legitimately don’t think he will be the guy? You wouldn’t want to pay him $9.5 million just because he’s the only one there.

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