The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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: Can the Steelers afford to re-sign Bud Dupree after this season, and should they try?
First of all, let’s start off with an acknowledgement that we’re jumping the gun here by a good bit. There are still eight games left to play, but Bud Dupree has already tied his career-high for sacks in a single season with six. He is coming off certainly one of the best games of his career, a two-sack, one-fumble showing that also included a crucial run stop on third and one that led to a missed would-be go-ahead field goal.
Dupree is finally playing the way the Steelers thought he was capable of when they drafted him. While he’s never been bad, he was drafted to be a dynamic, difference-making player, who could be one of the guys to come up in big moments. He’s been doing that this year.
Just in time for him to get paid. And yes, there’s still half a season to go, but barring something out of left field, he has already shown enough to earn a big contract for himself. Za’Darius Smith’s having a career year for the Green Bay Packers this season after a big payday following a modest career with the Baltimore Ravens will only serve to strengthen his market.
The question is, can the Steelers even afford to be in his market? And should they be, if that is within the realm of possibility? It may take them making some costly (pragmatically and emotionally) roster cuts in order to do it, even some creating bookkeeping.
But we’re also at the end of the road here with Ben Roethlisberger. T.J. Watt has two more affordable seasons. A dynamic book-end edge rush would be huge for the final Super Bowl push.