This past week I wrote about Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree and how the team will need to decide by May 3 if they want to pick up his fifth-year option for the 2019 season. Sunday morning, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked about that forthcoming decision on Dupree while in Orlando, FL for the start of annual league meetings and his response wasn’t overly a vote of confidence for the former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky.
Colbert, according to Missi Matthews of steelers.com, said Sunday that the team has yet to decide if they’ll pick up Dupree’s fifth-year option. Additionally, Colbert reportedly said that Dupree “hasn’t scratched the surface yet of his potential.”
The #Steelers can pick up the fifth-year option on OLB Bud Dupree. Colbert says they haven’t decided what to do yet, but Dupree “hasn’t scratched the surface yet of his potential.”
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) March 25, 2018
It really is hard to believe that the Steelers have yet to decide if they’ll pick up Dupree’s fifth-year option. If anything, at least the Steelers seemingly undecidedness at this stage of the offseason is a sign that Dupree’s fifth-year option might ultimately not be picked up by the May 3 deadline. If that ultimately is the case, Dupree will join former Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones as the only Pittsburgh players to not have their fifth-year options picked up since that become a choice they could make with former first-round draft picks.
Regardless of what ultimately happens with Dupree’s fifth-year option by the deadline, the Steelers are still expected to select another outside linebacker that can get after opposing quarterbacks at some point during the 2018 NFL Draft. Preferably, that will happen sometime in the first three rounds being as the Steelers don’t currently have a fourth-round selection in this year’s draft.
The Steelers current outside linebacker depth chart for 2018 includes Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams and Farrington Huguenin. Adams and Huguenin have yet to play a down for the Steelers while Chickillo, who was issued a one-year restricted tender this offseason, is really just a backup for both Dupree and Watt. In short, the Steelers need to draft another outside linebacker in the early rounds this year.
In past years, we’ve generally known whether or not the Steelers will pick up fifth-year options on players by the time the draft has rolled around. Will that be the case this year? Just to give you a little bit of perspective, Colbert said nearly two years ago ahead of the league’s annual meetings that the team was undecided if they would pick up the fifth-year option on Jones. As we all know, they ultimately decided not to.
Dupree’s fifth-year option for 2019 is expected to be around $9.5 million. If ultimately picked up by the Steelers, it will be guaranteed for injury only until the start of the 2019 league year next March.
“I think Bud is… I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Bud Dupree, not from a lack of effort or preparation,” Colbert said Sunday. “It’s just from really some health issues have hindered him along the way. He’s continuing to grow in that position and I think with him on one side and T.J. [Watt] on the other, those two will continue to grow and I think they’re gonna compliment 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.”