The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will Bud Dupree still be with the Steelers in 2020?
The Steelers more than most teams build their roster around the draft, and it goes without saying that their prized resources are their first-round picks. When they best assure that those first-round picks count, they tend to have the best results on the field.
Their record in the first round since 2013, however, has grown spotty, with Jarvis Jones already no longer in the league, and the first player on the team not to have his fifth-year option picked up. Ryan Shazier the following draft was excellent, but an injury has derailed his career. 2016 first-rounder Artie Burns will be the second not to have his fifth-year option picked up, and he may not even make the roster.
In between is Bud Dupree, who has been much more successful than Jones, but has rapidly fallen behind T.J. Watt at the same position, selected two years later. The Steelers did not draft any true edge defenders over the weekend, which led to questions about how the team evaluates its depth there.
Defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Keith Butler seemed to back Dupree on Saturday when asked about the depth at the position, saying that he thinks he’s going to be a good player heading into his third season, but that there are some minute details that have to be ironed out.
The Steelers are willing to pay him nearly $10 million this season, but that doesn’t mean they’re satisfied with his current level of play. That price level in terms of future employment hinges on his ability to show that he can play up to the value.
Outside of Dupree, there is nobody else on the roster who has really accomplished anything of significance at the position, no matter how much of your hopes you might want to place in Olasunkanmi Adeniyi. That alone keeps his name in the mix for 2020.