I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will pick up Bud Dupree’s fifth-year option.
As somewhat of a preface, I want to differentiate what I’m asking from what I’m not asking. You’re buying or selling whether or not the Steelers will pick up Dupree’s option, not whether or not they should pick up the option.
The Steelers will pick up Dupree’s fifth-year option because the rewards outweigh the risks, and because the team seems to remain optimistic that he has more to show. General Manager Kevin Colbert made these thoughts pretty clear during the Annual League Meeting.
As much as it will disappoint many of our readers, the team has a higher opinion of Dupree than the average fan does, recognizing that he has not played while fully healthy since his rookie season. He battled a shoulder injury since training camp and they feel that affected his ability to perform.
The only fifth-year option they have not picked up was Jarvis Jones, and Dupree has had far more success than the former has. He had more sacks last season then Jones had in his whole career.
The likelihood of Dupree becoming a pass-rusher worthy of nearly eight digits is greater than the likelihood that he suffers an injury that would make the fifth-year option guaranteed.
In spite of Colbert’s optimistic words, however, we have heard the brain trust talk up players before without ultimately putting action behind the sentiment. The Steelers used the tactic of not picking up Jones’ option as a motivating ploy and gave him the opportunity to succeed. Given Dupree’s unproven nature, they will probably be inclined to take the same path.
While the negatives in his game have been exaggerated by those who are ready to release him (even though most of his 2018 base salary is guaranteed), Dupree does not excel in any area. He is not a plus player against the run or in coverage, and his success as a pass rusher is intermittent at best. He has to prove he can be more than that before he can earn more.