Clark: Steelers Have Better Options For EDGE Depth Than Bud Dupree

With the Tennessee Titans releasing Bud Dupree on March 15, the natural connection is to link him with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that made him the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Dupree spent six years with the Steelers, and after a slow start to his career, he came on strong and finished with 17 sacks in his final two seasons in Pittsburgh. That led to him signing a five-year, $82 million contract with the Titans in free agency, but two years later, the Titans are cutting Dupree after he had just seven sacks in 22 games. The Steelers need EDGE depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, and while Dupree is a nice name to speculate about, he isn’t the answer.

The Steelers lost Watt for seven games this season due to a torn pectoral, and neither Malik Reed nor Jamir Jones were competent in replacing Watt. The team experimented with rookie DeMarvin Leal at OLB and he was decent, but the fact of the matter is the Steelers need help behind Highsmith and Watt. But that depth should be reliable, and Dupree hasn’t been able to stay on the field. He tore his ACL his final year in Pittsburgh, and has only managed to play 22 games during his tenure in Tennessee.

His injury history should give Pittsburgh pause, especially when you consider he’s likely going to be more expensive than other EDGE depth they could sign to fill a similar role. Dupree’s going to cost more than a guy like Chase Winovich, and would there really be that much of a difference in production with either if they were signed to be OLB3? While he’s not a lock to make the roster, the team also still Quincy Roche as an option for depth off the EDGE. Additionally, with the Steelers also looking to give Highsmith an extension this offseason, the team would probably have more money than they would like tied up in the position if they were to sign Dupree.

Looking at the upcoming draft class, I would also much rather draft an EDGE rusher as depth than commit money to Dupree. Alex Kozora threw out Derick Hall as a name today, and while he’s a fantastic option in the second round, there are guys like Jose Ramirez, Tyrus Wheat, and Yasir Abdullah who could be potential options later in the draft. The risk you run with those guys is that they may not be able to contribute immediately, but that’s why you could spend less money on a Winovich-type free agent to pair with a late-round draft pick who can spend a year as OLB4.

Then there’s the factor that Dupree might not want to play limited snaps. He’s 30 years old, and his NFL window is limited. He’s going to want to play, and he’s going to want to make a nice chunk of change. For a year or two, yeah, he’d probably be a decent option behind Watt or Highsmith. But if he doesn’t want to play less than 25 snaps a game, then you end up with a hostage rather than a volunteer.

In essence, for the amount he’s going to play in Pittsburgh, he’s probably going to require more money so he can have that financial security since he’s not playing enough to really showcase himself for his next contract. And with other capable EDGE rushers available in free agency more than a few available through the draft, it just wouldn’t be a wise use of resources to commit money the money Dupree likely wants to be a backup.

Free agency kicks off next week, and how the Steelers choose to address their EDGE depth is going to be an interesting story. I just hope they don’t spend too much to bring back a familiar name.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!