Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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: Even
Yes, the Steelers did use one of their highest draft picks on his position. But no, that doesn’t have any effect on the standing of Bud Dupree, who shortly before the 2020 NFL Draft signed his nearly $16 million franchise tender, locking in that money for the upcoming season.
As I’ve mentioned a few times by now, Alex Highsmith is the first outside linebacker the Steelers have taken between rounds two and five since 2011, when they drafted Chris Carter in round five. Since then, they have either swung for the fences in the first round or settled for the ‘upside’ guys at the end of the draft.
But he wasn’t drafted necessarily thinking that he is a future starter. It’s possible that that ends up being what happens. But the reality is that he was just brought in for the purposes of developing into a quality number three pass-rusher behind T.J. Watt and Dupree, and to play on special teams.
The Steelers still have every intention of putting their efforts toward working out a long-term extension with Dupree, their 2015 first-round draft pick who finally put up the sort of numbers in 2019 that they had been waiting for, after being as healthy as he’s been since his rookie year.
With 11.5 sacks, 68 tackles (with 16 for a loss), four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries (plus three passes defensed), Dupree put up a borderline Pro Bowl-worthy stat sheet, and while there is reason to believe his sack numbers will regress some in the future, there is little use denying the progress he has made.
The Steelers saw in him last season a player who could be a staple part of their defense for years to come. Whether you agree with that premise or not, it’s the one the front office is working under, and Highsmith being brought on board doesn’t change that at all.
The Charlotte product is not a bargaining chip. It doesn’t give them any leverage. Right now, he’s just the prospective next Anthony Chickillo, and it’s not going to knock down Dupree’s price or lessen the odds of them getting a long-term deal done.