On Tuesday, I wrote about Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree and specifically about how it’s highly unlikely that the team would rescind his fifth-year option for the 2019 season that they picked up last summer. On Wednesday, Steelers team president Art Rooney II all but confirmed that Dupree’s option year isn’t likely to be rescinded when he held his end-of-the-season media session.
“I’m not going to try to predict anything as far as his contract,” Rooney said, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Bud had some good games and some other games that were probably not what you would want. But I think there was some progress this year, so we’re looking for some progress from him again next year.”
Next year is of course 2019 and technically that begins for the NFL on March 13, the start of the new league year. If Dupree isn’t released by the Steelers between now and that date, his fifth-year option year will become fully guaranteed at that time and thus he’ll be officially on the books to earn $9.232 million after registering 42 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 passes defensed, an interception and a forced fumble during the 2018 season.
While Rooney is correct in saying that Dupree made some progress this past season, a season that include him playing predominantly on the right side of the defense after previously playing on the left side his first three seasons in the NFL, that step forward wasn’t big enough to justify him earning $9 million in 2019, in my personal opinion.
As I wrote on Tuesday concerning Dupree and the Steelers looming decision with his fifth-year option, the team really has nothing right now but question marks on their outside linebacker depth chart behind the Kentucky product and T.J. Watt, another former first-round draft pick. Because of that, we can probably expect the Steelers to address the outside linebacker position in either free agency, early in the draft, or both. At least that’s what everyone reading this post should be hoping for.
The Steelers now have right at about 8 weeks to change their collective minds about Dupree but judging by what Rooney said on Wednesday, it will be a huge shock if the team releases the outside linebacker prior to his option year fully guaranteeing.
In case you missed it, Alex Kozora and I had a lengthy conversation about Dupree’s future during the Wednesday podcast.