Every team has questions to answer in the offseason. It’s the natural evaluation period, wherein every team looks over where they are, where they want to go, and what they need to do to be able to get there. It’s also the team that contracts expire, so that is the time that players move around. And, you know, the draft happens then too, so it’s kind of a big deal.
The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have more questions than most teams, however, especially for a team that is ostensibly supposed to be a title contender, as they are regarded every year. Even after missing the playoffs in 2018 with a 9-6-1 record, they are still being viewed as a potential Super Bowl team, but a lot can and will happen between now and September, let alone between now and February.
Outside of the massive question that is figuring out whether or not wide receiver Antonio Brown can even viably remain on the team, let alone whether or not to tag Le’Veon Bell, re-sign Ramon Foster or Jesse James (among others), or release a veteran like Marcus Gilbert, there is another starter under contract whose fate is yet to be determined.
That would be right outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who is theoretically heading into the 2019 season under his fifth-year option, which will become guaranteed at a value north of $9 million upon the start of the new league year in March.
Dupree has only notched 20 career sacks in his first four seasons, with 11 and a half of them coming in the past two years. He recorded five and a half sacks in 2018, but he also had an interception that he returned for a touchdown. Still, nobody seems to believe that he has lived up to what he would earn in 2019. They didn’t even pay that much to Jason Worilds, who was more successful.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist Gerry Dulac has consistently maintained through the offseason that he doesn’t believe there is any way that the team would carry him into 2019 on that value. He reiterated that position during a recent chat session, telling a reader that “there’s no way they are going to pay him $9+ million this year for what he does. I think they restructure and lower his cap hit/salary”.
Now, it’s probably worth pointing out that at no point, at least to the best of my knowledge, has Dulac ever indicated that this position was anything other than his belief. He has never suggested that this is something that he has been told by a team source. And Art Rooney II’s comments earlier this offseason have even seemed to imply that they were willing to let him play under the fifth-year option, believing that he still has ‘potential’ to reach that he hasn’t yet.