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: Keeping Bud Dupree over the alternatives is preferable even if it means losing a starting lineman and Mike Hilton.
Explanation: We have been discussing these variables for a while now, and it could change if the CBA is approved. If it is not, however, there is a possibility that we are looking at a future in which the team has to decide between Dupree and Hilton and B.J. Finney. We already know, more or less, that they will pick Dupree, but that’s not what we’re buying or selling.
Without Dupree, the Steelers have Ola Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper as their rightside edge rushers. Without Hilton, they still have Cameron Sutton, with Justin Layne perhaps ready for a role. Without Finney, Matt Feiler moves to left guard, and Chukwuma Okorafor, who already has a couple of starts, would start under the worst-case scenario. Or Zach Banner can be retained and they compete for the job.
I think it’s better to have Dupree plus Sutton and Okorafor/Banner than it is to have Adeniyi/Skipper with Hilton and Finney. Sutton had already been rotating in with Hilton in certain situations and needs to have a role in the final year of his rookie contract anyway, and there’s a reason they’ve been building depth at tackle. Now is the time to make use of it.
The hope is, of course, that it won’t come to this, but if the scenario arises that the choice has to be made, the argument can be brought up that Dupree alone is less significant than the other contributors. Especially with the offensive line beginning a regression, it’s important to keep their best depth player as he transitions into a starter, that being Finney.
As has been discussed with Dupree, he is far from an elite pass rusher, no matter what his sack total last season suggested about improvement. They could sign a mid-level veteran to work with the two young guys, and the combination of the two, paired with the retention of other players at other positions, would more than offset Dupree’s loss. Especially since both Adeniyi and Skipper have shown indications that they can play the run.