Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: OLB Bud Dupree
Stock Value: Up
In terms of almost literal stock value, did anybody have a better year than Bud Dupree? He entered this season with 20 career sacks over four years, never with more than six in a single season. He came out with a career year, including 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, which is more than double his prior career total.
It can certainly be argued, and fairly, that his raw stat line might not necessarily reflect exactly how well he played. As Pro Football Focus has argued, his actual pressure rate is not great compared to other pass rushers. But he did better than ever before in converting those pressures into impact plays, for sure.
He also once again took his already solid run defense to another level, contributing to his career-high 16 tackles for loss on the year. His 68 total tackles was also significantly more than he ever had in one year, his previous high being just 48.
The bottom line is, Dupree just made a lot of money for himself. At an absolute bare minimum, he is going to make the franchise tag price for an edge defender in 2020, assuming that the Steelers do tag him and fail to work out a long-term deal. At best, he could land a huge multi-year deal worth in the ballpark of $16 million per season or more. Not because he’s stellar, but because that’s what the open-market price is for a good edge defender in the prime of his career.
Strengthening his position is the case study of Za’Darius Smith, who went from success role/rotational player to highly-compensated and high-performing edge defender this year after signing with the Green Bay Packers in free agency last year. No doubt some team out there thinks they can get even more out of Dupree.
One thing is for certain, and that is that he has wiped off the ‘first-round bust’ tag for many fans, though not all. There are still those who would be happy to see him walk and sign for a huge contract elsewhere, believing that his numbers will regress to the mean rather than continue in a positive trajectory.