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: Given the choice straight up, Matthew Judon would be preferred over Bud Dupree.
Explanation: Both the Baltimore Ravens and the Steelers have some prominent edge rushers scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this year, and in both cases, it appears likely they will ultimately have to be given the franchise tag. They had somewhat similar seasons in 2019, with Judon ultimately making the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
Judon has been working in a rotation for his career up until last season, and yet he still has nearly as many sacks in one fewer season than Dupree has. Dupree has 55 starts to Judon’s 36, yet has only 31.5 sacks to Judon’s 28.5. Both are stout run defenders, but while Dupree put up more sacks, Judon is the better pass rusher.
The fourth-year Raven put up over 40 combined sacks and hits last season, with 9.5 sacks and 33 quarterback hits. Like Dupree, he also produced four forced fumbles was well. They are very similar players overall, with the biggest difference being that Judon is the more skilled and nuanced pass rusher, so the decision is easy in favor of the ‘enemy’.
You can also look at the success of Za’Darius Smith, behind or in rotation with Judon played prior to 2019. Smith broke out and had a Pro Bowl year himself with the Green Bay Packers when finally given more playing time.
While this is purely hypothetical, and obviously Judon will be staying with the Ravens as much as Dupree will be staying with the Steelers, Dupree would still be the preferred choice for Pittsburgh, for not the least reason being that Pittsburgh has finally put together a pass-rush tandem that actually works together, in unison, T.J. Watt being his complement.
Though Dupree has one more year of experience, Judon is actually the older player by over half a year, so that is not even a factor. Arguably, the former may still have more ‘upside’ left than the latter. Already, he has shown to be good enough to start on a championship-caliber defense, and it doesn’t make sense to change things that work.