There’s a very good chance that Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree has played his last snap with the team that selected him in the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Kentucky. After all, Dupree, who is currently rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered in December, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March and the Steelers don’t figure to have the cap room needed to re-sign him. That all noted, Steelers team president Art Rooney II said Thursday that he’s not ready to completely rule out the possibility of Dupree returning in 2021.
“We’d love to have him back,” said Rooney of Dupree during a Thursday interview with Bob Pompeani on KDKA-TV. “We’re not closing the door on anything.”
While that sounds good in theory with Dupree still being under contract with the Steelers until March 17, its very hard to imagine the Steelers being able to find common ground with their former first-round outside linebacker on a deal that would allow him to stay in Pittsburgh at least one more year.
Sure, Dupree is technically damaged goods right now and thus might ultimately not get the full market value he would have gotten this coming season had he not suffered his knee injury. Even so, it’s hard to imagine Dupree signing any sort of contract this offseason that pays him less than $10 million for 2021. Dupree even scoffed at NFL insider John Clayton saying on Wednesday during an interview on 93.7 The Fan that the Steelers outside linebacker will likely have to sign a one-year $6 million prove it contract this offseason.
Dupree, by the way, updated his knee rehab on Thursday and said he fully expects to be fully healthy and reedy to resume playing once training camps around the league get underway in late July.
In a prefect world would the Steelers love to have Dupree back for at least one more season? Absolutely. Would Dupree like to re-sign with the Steelers if at all possible? You bet. All that said, it’s not a perfect world right now for the Steelers and especially when it comes to their 2021 salary cap situation. In short, while Rooney’s not ready to say the team is completely closing the door on the possibility of Dupree returning in 2021, there’s just not likely going to be enough cap money to use as a sturdy enough door stop to keep it from slamming completely shut after March 17 gets here.