Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree updated everyone Wednesday morning on how his surgically repaired right knee is coming along during an interview on Good Morning Football. As part of that update, Dupree expressed optimism that he’ll ultimately be ready to resume playing when training camps around the NFL open in late July. Dupree, as most should know by now, is not guaranteed to return to the Steelers this offseason as the former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. What will Dupree’s free agent market value be this offseason with him coming off a serious knee injury in December that required surgery? Longtime NFL insider John Clayton thinks he knows that number.
“You kind of get the feeling it might be like the one-year, $6 million deal,” Clayton speculated during a Wednesday interview on 93.7 The Fan.
One-year, $6 million for Dupree? Man, that seems mighty low and I bet Dupree will get quite the chuckle out of that Clayton speculation should he read or hear that quote.
So, why does Clayton speculate such a low marker value for Dupree? Obviously due to fallout from the pandemic and the expectations that the NFL’s salary cap will come in at around $180 million or less.
“Because the market is just going to be so depressed for the players trying to get their value,” Clayton theorized on Wednesday. “And so particularly if you’re now Bud Dupree, I mean, you can’t get the kind of contract that you would expect if you were healthy. And so, he may have to take a provisional one-year contract at a much lower number than he really likes to be able to do it.
“That gives the Steelers a chance to maybe get an opportunity to re-sign him. But very few players, I think, are going to be able to get the true value of what they think they should get.”
Hey, while I think Clayton will ultimately be wrong, if Dupree were able to be had for $6 million for the 2021 season, the Steelers should make every effort possible to re-sign him to such a deal. That said, the Steelers will be hard-pressed to even afford a one-year, $6 million deal for Dupree should Clayton’s speculation that the 2021 salary cap number will come in at around $180 million.
Before everyone gets all hot and bothered over Clayton’s Wednesday free agent market value prediction for Dupree this offseason, remember that this is the same John Clayton that said last summer that the Steelers other outside linebacker, T.J. Watt, will only be able to get around $16 million per season from the Steelers when and if he signs a contract extension this coming offseason.
“I’d say right now, $16 [million per season], and maybe a little bit more than that,” Clayton said of Watt’s current worth on the heels of the Browns signing defensive end Myles Garrett to a five-year, $125 million contract extension last July. “And now Bud Dupree doesn’t want to hear this and neither does Shaq Barrett, but it’s like, okay, there’s a difference in the price of a defensive end versus the price of a linebacker. And so, you know, you figure that, I know that [Khalil] Mack got the $23.5 [million] and that stunned everybody, because again, he’s a linebacker. But usually there’s a $2 to $3 million difference between a D-end and a linebacker. So, you know, I don’t know if Watt does have the chance to get to $20 [million], but I would tend to think it’s going to be very, very difficult.”
I can tell you right now that Watt will not be signing for $16 million per season later this summer. In fact, and as I have long speculated, his number could come in at nearly twice that at around $30 million per season.
So, there you have it on Dupree from Clayton and now we will wait and see how close or far off his valuation of the rehabbing outside linebacker ultimately is. Personally, I find it hard to imagine that Dupree will sign for less than $10 million per season and even on a one-year deal and in a post pandemic depressed market. After all, Dupree was well on his way to getting at least $18 million per season as an unrestricted free agent prior to his December knee injury. Clayton’s estimation of Dupree is just a third of that amount. Yikes!