For the first time in rather a while, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have some of the bigger names on the free agency market at multiple positions when the new league year opens. There will be, for example, JuJu Smith-Schuster, a Pro Bowler, at the wide receiver position. Alejandro Villanueva, another Pro Bowler, will be one of the top left tackles available.
And then there is Bud Dupree, who despite having never risen to the level of Pro Bowler is among the league leaders in sacks over the course of the past two seasons, and who has really risen his profile over that span. But he is also rehabbing from a torn ACL that he suffered in the second half of the year after recording eight sacks.
How will that injury affect his free market value? Such injuries are not nearly as deleterious to a player’s price tag as they once were, but they will still have an impact, at least for some teams. As they say, though, it only takes one team.
Earlier this week, John Clayton speculated that Dupree would have to settle for a one-year ‘prove it’ type of contract for around $6 million in order to get the contract that he is looking for in 2022, citing both his injury and the anticipated salary cap plunge due to the pandemic.
Dupree, needless to say, was simply amused by such a remark. He replied to a Tweet noting Clayton’s analysis with three ‘laughing with tears’ emojis, and nothing more.
— Big Bud (@Bud_Dupree) January 27, 2021
It would be helpful to point out that Dupree has been making more than that for years already. In 2019, he played under his fifth-year option as a former first-round pick, and that was valued at more than $9 million. The 2020 season saw him play under the franchise tag, which was worth more than $15 million.
He has made roughly $25 million over the course of the past two seasons, accounting for the majority of his approximately $34 million career earnings to date, and he has been playing the best football of his career during that time. As long as one single team feels fine with the progress of his rehab, which seems to be going well, he is going to cash in.
And it’s time for him to, as well. He is going into his seventh season now. While he has already banked a good chunk of change in relative terms, he is due to have some stability in the form of a high-value multi-year contract.
That’s not going to come from Pittsburgh, almost surely, not matter what Art Rooney II says, just because of the economic realities involved, but somebody will pay him. And Dupree will be laughing all the way to the bank.