The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks a slight improvement from the past two seasons, during which they did not even qualify for the playoffs altogether. They have now done four seasons without securing a victory beyond regular season play.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
They did manage to go 12-4 during the regular season, and secured their first AFC North title since 2017, posting a new franchise record by opening the season with 11 consecutive wins, but of course it all fell apart after that. Their only victory after that required a 17-point comeback.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2020 season.
Player: Bud Dupree
Experience: 6 Years
Bud Dupree was well on his way to his second consecutive season with 10 or more sacks when he went down in the second half of the year with a torn ACL. It was in the 11th game of the season, and he already had eight by then, in a contract year, knowing he would hit unrestricted free agency for the first time.
In his seventh year. A former first-round draft pick, the Kentucky edge rusher played under his fifth-year option tender in 2019 when he had his breakout season with 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He was continuing a similar level of play this past season while playing under the franchise tag.
It’s unclear how much that knee injury is going to affect his market value, but we have seen a number of people suggest that he is going to have to end up settling for a one-year ‘prove it’ contract in the hopes of finally cashing in with some long-term stability and a big, fact signing bonus in 2022.
Wherever he plays in 2021, I expect him to be the same player that he was last year before the injury, a guy who gradually learned how to fully harness his athletic ability and become a complete player on the edge, capable of playing the run, rushing the passer, and even working in coverage, though the Steelers increasingly used their outside linebackers in coverage less in recent years.
The advantage of staying in Pittsburgh, if that were any way feasible, is of course the fact that he would be able to continue to line up alongside T.J. Watt on the left side. Watt is the premiere edge rusher in the NFL right now, and anybody would benefit from the attention that he draws.