2019 needs to be the biggest year ever for Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree as he’s now in a contract year after having his fifth-year option picked up well over a year ago. Dupree, who is now guaranteed to make over $9 million in 2019, was asked ahead of the team’s Sunday practice if it’s a different feeling for him this year with it being the first time he’s essentially faced being in a contract-year.
“Oh yeah, yeah. It’s fun,” Dupree said, per steelers.com. “I mean, it’s fun to me. I’m out here, so is what it is. I’m going to play my best, I’m gonna do my best for them and whatever happens, happens.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 28, 2019
While many have speculated that Dupree might sign a contract extension with the Steelers between the start of training camp and the start of the 2019 regular season, the former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky seemingly made it very clear on Sunday that he’s not going to sign an extension in the coming weeks.
“Nah, I don’t even ask my agent, because I just want to go out and, you know, play to my best ability and have my best year yet,” Dupree said when asked if the Steelers are even discussing a long-term contract with him currently.
While it doesn’t sound like Dupree will get a contract extension this offseason, which shouldn’t be very shocking news if you follow this site religiously, he was asked Sunday if he can see himself still being part of the organization next season.
“Yeah, I can, yeah, definitely,” Dupree said. “You know, I’m all part of it. I love the organization.”
While Dupree might can see himself being part of the Steelers past the 2019 season, it will take him having a monster upcoming season for that to happen. In short, for Dupree to return to the Steelers in 2020 it would likely be with him wearing the franchise tag and it’s hard to imagine such a scenario playing out that way unless he were to have a huge 2019 season that includes him registering double-digit sacks. Dupree, however, expects that kind of year out of himself in 2019.
“A big year, double-digits, yeah,” Dupree said “Definitely that, so I’m going to have a big year. This is the year that we really need it as a unit and also for myself.”
Dupree knows what a huge year for him in 2019 could wind up meaning for him in regard to a lucrative long-term contract next offseason. Several free agent edge-rushers cashed in once again this past offseason and one of those players was Za’darius Smith, who played with Dupree at Kentucky and was also chosen in the 2015 NFL Draft, albeit in the fourth-round. Dupree was asked if he saw a few of those contracts handed out this past offseason and especially the one given to Smith.
“You know, that just puts more fire up under you to go out and have a great year,” Dupree said. “You know, guys having their best years in their contract years. And going out and making sure of that, you know, confidence is the key with yourself and within the team and the unit.”
To date, Dupree has registered 20 sacks in 54 career regular season games that he’s played. His single season high in sacks is 6 and that happened in 2017. He once again worked hard during the offseason in hopes of improving as a pass-rusher and specifically his inside moves and alternate moves as he’s mostly only been able to win around the edge with his speed to date.
“Just being in the scheme, you know, making sure to be able on certain situations know when to go inside and know when to stay outside for the blitz,” Dupree said. “But just all that plays hand in hand.”