The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Re-signing Bud Dupree at the market level would be money well-spent.
Explanation: A former first-round pick, Bud Dupree had a career year in 2019 in his fifth season, posting 11.5 sacks with four forced fumbles and two recoveries. He racked up the tackles for loss in the run game, as well, but in terms of pressure percentage, he is still somewhat pedestrian.
The going rate is the going rate, and the reason it’s so high is because it’s hard to come by solid edge defenders. Bud Dupree turned himself into one, even if he might not be a 10-sack-a-season player as this past year’s production might suggest.
Dupree is an overall player who can even drop into coverage with relative success, with regards to the position that he plays. And the Steelers truly have no alternatives. Anthony Chickillo, Ola Adeniyi, and Tuzar Skipper are the alternatives, and they don’t have a first-round pick, nor salary cap space to find a replacement that way.
It goes without saying that the Steelers’ championship window is closing, with Ben Roethlisberger very near the end of his career at this point. The defense is going to need to shoulder some of the load, so they have to make the investment.
The money could be better spent elsewhere, or saved to preserve some salary cap casualties. The fact of the matter is that Dupree doesn’t win often enough as a pass rusher to justify that sort of salary. The Steelers have led the league in sacks in each of the past three seasons with over 160 in total in that span, and Dupree has only contributed about 23 or so to that pile. They can generate pressure with more blitzes if it actually becomes an issue.
They can still sign a mid-level free agent who can help at the position while investing a high draft pick instead to compensate, without committing something like $16 million worth of salary cap space to retaining an average pass rusher.