Bud Dupree has always been a presence in T.J. Watt’s career. From the time the latter was drafted in the first round in 2017, the former was already there, starting across from him, as a third-year guy of the same pedigree, coming of the edge for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While Watt may have taken off much faster and has quickly risen to arguably the very top of the NFL in terms of defensive dominance, Dupree in his own right has blossomed in recent years, and has positioned himself to be handsomely rewarded. A torn ACL suffered in Wednesday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens dampened his prospects, however, and the mood in the building.
“I miss Bud already. It’s been weird just in the short week without having him around, more than anything just as a friend, as a teammate, and off-the-field stuff”, Watt told reporters today. “I think Bud is just an extremely likeable guy in this locker room, and in this organization. He’s just a very unselfish player and unselfish person. He’s always putting others in front of him. He’s just a guy that is contagious. He makes you want to be a better person and better football player, so I can’t wait until he’s back around in the building”.
The two lead the NFL in sacks by any duo in any team in the NFL through 11 games. Watt has 11 on his own, and Dupree contributed eight prior to his injury, giving them 19. They were in pace to record 27-28 sacks as a pair this season, after managing 26 last season. The team’s record is 27.5, set by James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in 2008.
In addition to his eight sacks, Dupree will finish the 2020 season having recorded 31 tackles, with eight for a loss, 15 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, and two passes defensed. He had a career year in 2019, finishing with 68 tackles, 16 for loss, 11.5 sacks, 17 hits, four forced fumbles, two recoveries, and three passes defensed.
Now in his sixth season, Dupree is one of the most veteran members of the defense, and a personality larger within the locker room than many on the outside may realize, though the fact that he was given a segment airing on the team’s website this season called ‘Bud Brought a Buddy’ is a pretty good indication of his reputation.
In six seasons with the Steelers, he recorded 231 tackles, 39.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, an interception, and 10 passes defensed, with one touchdown. He will be an unrestricted free agent in March, and most likely these numbers will represent his career totals in Pittsburgh as he moves on to an opportunity with a team that can better afford his services.