The Pittsburgh Steelers have a compelling offseason ahead of them including some major decisions that need to be made. Arguably the biggest decision on the list is what to do with Bud Dupree, and how to do it. Head coach Mike Tomlin has already assured reporters during his end-of-season press conference that retaining him is a priority—but at what cost?
Pro Football Focus warns that the Steelers, and any other team who might look to sign him if he is indeed allowed to hit unrestricted free agency, should be wary of what they pay for him, because he is among the pass rushers this past season who have produced an inflated sack total.
In fact, Ben Linsey provides an interesting chart that shows his pressure rate over the course of his career and how that ranked relative to his position across the league. In actuality, he produced pressure at a rate lower than he did in each of the past two seasons, despite virtually doubling his sack total.
“Through the first four seasons of his career, Dupree had all the makings of a first-round bust. He didn’t crack a 65.0 pass-rush grade in any of those seasons, nor did he have a pressure rate north of 12%”, he wrote. “That has all seemed to change in 2019, but it’s largely been the splash plays that have brought about that change. Dupree’s 13 sacks are more than double any prior season of his career, and his four forced fumbles are two more than he had from 2015 to 2018 combined”.
As a note, I should point out, or remind, that PFF doesn’t adhere to other outlets’ stats, and for example include half-sacks as full sacks, so statistics may not always squarely align. He officially finished the season with 11.5 sacks, while his previous high was six. He also had four forced fumbles, as mentioned.
“What should concern the Steelers when looking at the potential of re-signing Dupree, along with other potential suitors, is that his pressure rate for 2019 sits at only 10.1%”, Linsey continued. “That ranks 70th among edge rushers, tied with Cassius Marsh and John Simon. Dupree’s sack total with a pressure rate that low and a four-year track record of subpar production as a pass-rusher should bring reason for pause for NFL teams this offseason”.
While his pass rush may not be elite, there is little doubt that Dupree had a strong season, and PFF is certainly not arguing otherwise. He is also a complete player, with a strong run defense to boot. I can understand what their argument is, but it’s not as though the Steelers have a tempting alternative.