Based at least upon reader responses, there is nothing that pains a Pittsburgh Steelers fan more than to read anything positive about fifth-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who must surely be among the worst human beings to ever exist.
Worse still is any allusion to the possibility that he could still be growing and developing as a player, in spite of the fact that he already has four years of NFL experience under his belt. The former first-round pick has produced an average of five sacks per season during his first four years. He did record an interception returned for a touchdown last season.
Earlier this week, as he was being activated from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List, fellow outside linebacker T.J. Watt spoke to the media for the first time in training camp, and he was asked about Dupree and the criticism he has gotten, especially relative to his own success over the first two years of his career.
‘If you look closely, he’s there on a lot of plays. He’s just got to be able to finish the sacks”, Watt offered via The Fan of his veteran teammate, “and I think that he’s made that an emphasis this year. Bud’s got a lot of great rushes. He’s really good in the run defense, too. I think he’s right there, he’s so close, and I think this year will be the year for him”.
The intimation that ‘this will be the year’ for Dupree has been made early and often this offseason from both players and coaches. He is playing under his fifth-year option, essentially a contract year, and while there is no expectation that he is in discussions for an extension—he has said he prefers to play out the option—it is nonetheless essentially a ‘contract’ year as he prepares to hit unrestricted free agency in the spring.
Regardless of whether or not they would be able to afford to pay him in 2020, the Steelers would love nothing more than to see a dominant season from him this season, as it would be of great aid to their cause, which is to win another Super Bowl.
In the meantime, though, they are hoping to develop some young talent at the position, in a group led by second-year Olasunkanmi Adeniyi. The 2018 college free agent out of Toledo recorded three sacks, including two strip sacks, during the preseason a year ago, but spent most of his rookie season on the Reserve/Injured List.
He has picked up in the offseason right where he left off, but he is also joined by Tuzar Skipper and Sutton Smith, as well as J.T. Jones, in making some plays off the edge. Skipper in particular, who was a rookie minicamp invitee and a former Toledo teammate of Adeniyi’s.