A little more than a month ago I wrote about how fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers should be prepared for the team to stick with outside linebacker Bud Dupree this offseason and thus pay him the $9.232 million due him in 2019 after picking up the former first round draft pick’s fifth-year option last offseason. On Wednesday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert pretty much confirmed that Dupree will not be cut this offseason and that he’ll likely play out his fifth-year option in 2019.
Colbert said on Wednesday that the team isn’t “opposed to paying LB Bud Dupree his fifth-year option rather than trying to sign him to more team-friendly number,” according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In short, Colbert made it sound like Dupree is all but certain to get the $9.232 million he’s currently scheduled to earn in 2019.
For those scoring at home, Dupree’s fifth-year option amount becomes fully guaranteed at the start of the new league year in March, which is now roughly four weeks away. At that point, the only way that Dupree would have a lower salary cap charge than $9.232 million in 2019 would be a result of him signing a long-term contract extension later during the offseason. Even if the two sides were to work out some sort of contract extension prior to the start of the new league year it would likely need to average at least $9.5 million a season for Dupree to agree to it.
Last season, Dupree, who was originally selected in the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Kentucky, registered 42 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He now has 20 career sacks in his four seasons in the NFL. Several fans of the team were hoping that Dupree would be cut prior to his fifth-year option becoming fully guaranteed but that doesn’t look like it will ultimately happen.
Assuming that Dupree does indeed stick past the start of the new league like Colbert insinuates will be the case, it will then be interesting to see how early during the draft the team addresses the outside linebacker position. Currently, the only backup outside linebackers under contract with the Steelers for the 2019 season are Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Keion Adams. Adeniyi played all of 9 defensive snaps during his 2018 rookie season while Adams, the Steelers 2017 seventh-round draft pick, has yet to play an NFL snap in his two seasons in the league. Even if the Steelers do re-sign outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo this offseason, that won’t be much of a consolation.