I would say that there has been a lot of debate over whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers should pick up the fifth-year option for outside linebacker Bud Dupree, but you actually need to have two sides of an argument to have a debate about it, and I haven’t had the easiest time finding anybody who believes they should pick up the option.
At least publicly, even the Steelers are unsure just yet whether or not they will pick up the option, though I’m sure many people don’t actually believe that they have yet to make up their minds about that. The 2015 first-round draft pick has to have his option picked up within about two weeks if it is going to happen.
The last time it seemed as though the team was unsure of whether or not to pick up the option, they didn’t, and that was with 2013 first-rounder Jarvis Jones. There was really no beating around the bush when it came to Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, and Ryan Shazier.
If what Kevin Colbert said about them remaining unsure is true, however, then it is because they still believe that he is an ascending player, and the team’s general manager did speak to that when he was asked about the topic on Sunday.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Bud Dupree. Not from a lack of effort or preparation. Really some health issues have hindered him along the way”, he told Missi Matthews for the team’s website. A sports hernia injury sidelined him for most of his second season, and he played through a shoulder injury last year suffered in training camp, due to which he missed the season opener.
I thought it was interesting that he tied Dupree and their other recent first-round outside linebacker together, suggesting that they will help each other. T.J. Watt had a very successful rookie season a year ago.
“He’s continuing to grow in that position”, Colbert said of Dupree, “and I think with him on one side and T.J. on the other, those two will continue to grow, and they’re going to complement each other. We saw signs of that last year, and I think you’re going to continue to see growth and development in both of those players”.
While much has been made of Watt’s ability to transition to the outside linebacker position with relatively minimal experience, perhaps it’s worth recalling that Dupree only spent part of his college career at linebacker, and he never had a true position coach while there either.
The hope is that we haven’t seen the best of Bud Dupree yet, as Colbert said above. That would be the reason to pick up his option. You don’t pick up the option based on his numbers from his first three season; you do so based on where you expect him to be a year from now. And perhaps a mutual development with Watt will be part of that.