2023 Offseason Questions: Are Steelers Set To Reunite With Bud Dupree?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Will the Steelers reunite with outside linebacker Bud Dupree?

The Steelers are set to bring in free agent outside linebacker Bud Dupree for a visit, according to Jeremy Fowler. It shouldn’t entail much in the way of the getting-to-know-you variety, given that he was with the team for six seasons from 2015 through 2020.

Dupree signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans after that season, but they released him earlier this offseason following a tumultuous two years. That included some lingering effects of the ACL he tore late in the 2020 season before signing the deal.

Now 30 years old and having earned more than $68 million over the course of his career, the fact of his visit to Pittsburgh strikes me as a sign of his acknowledgement that how the league perceives him has changed. He may be ready at this point in his career to accept a backup role for the right situation.

And returning to Pittsburgh would seem to fit the bill. He still have good friends on the roster, most notably T.J. Watt, who should still be here even after Dupree retires. But a reunion is not yet guaranteed—they wouldn’t be holding a visit if that were so.

On the Steelers’ front, there are three concerns: his health, his salary, and his willingness to accept that he will not be a starter ahead of Watt and Alex Highsmith. Some may think that they are willing to handle the latter until faced with the prospect, as we saw with Melvin Ingram a couple years ago.

Outside linebacker depth is a critical area for the Steelers to address, and if Dupree can provide anything close to his former self at a reasonable salary, it would be a smart investment. But it has to work for both sides, and for Dupree’s body.

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