The Pittsburgh Steelers brought in veteran outside linebacker Bud Dupree for a visit this past week, but all signs point toward him leaving town without a contract. Dupree, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, underwent a physical while visiting his old team but apparently no contract details were discussed at the time of his report. While a Dupree deal doesn’t seem imminent as we move into April, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he ultimately won’t be signed.
We’ll never know for sure if Dupree passed his physical with flying colors or not. That said he is coming off a 2022 season that included him dealing with a hip injury first and then a late season pectoral injury. That pectoral injury resulted in the Steelers’ former first-round draft pick being placed on the Titans’ Reserve/Injured list late in December.
The Titans terminating the contract of Dupree just after the start of the 2023 league year didn’t come as a huge surprise as that move was expected to happen as the play of the veteran outside linebacker the last two seasons didn’t match the money he was getting paid. It is worth noting, however, that Dupree was not listed on the official NFL transaction sheet with a failed physical designation.
If you’re keeping score at home, the Titans did terminate the contracts of linebacker Zach Cunningham, tackle Taylor Lewan and center Ben Jones in March and listed each with failed physical designations on the official NFL transaction sheet. The fact that Dupree didn’t receive a failed physical designation is encouraging overall and especially with him ending the 2022 season with a pectoral injury.
While Dupree only played two years of the very lucrative contract that he signed with the Titans in March of 2021, he did manage to pocket $33,926,471 of that money. And while he is now 30 years of age as of February, he probably still believes he has a few more good seasons left in him. Basically, Dupree is probably not ready to take the first cheap deal that comes his way this offseason and especially not even three full weeks since he was let go by the Titans.
Additionally when it comes to Dupree, he might still think he has a shot at landing with a team that will allow him to open the 2023 season as a starter, something he wouldn’t likely do if he were to sign back with the Steelers. The money the Steelers might have set aside for Dupree would likely be backup money and in my estimation, probably around $4-$5 million per season. Knowing the Steelers’ history, they might be thinking that they would like to potentially sign Dupree to a two-year deal and one that would keep his 2023 cap charge low while also giving them an easy out in 2024.
The Steelers obviously could use another outside linebacker with a ton of experience on their depth chart this offseason and that’s why Dupree was an easy dot connection following his Tennessee exit. They might very well could address that position during the 2023 NFL Draft and even if they were to sign Dupree before that annual event.
Assuming he can pass a physical right now, Dupree might also be better served to wait to sign with a team until after the 2023 NFL Draft takes place as that might actually increase his overall value just a tad. Conversely, the Steelers might be waiting until after the draft to offer Dupree a deal he would accept. We obviously don’t know for sure, but both scenarios are plausible ones.
So, will Dupree ultimately be a Steeler once again? It’s impossible to answer that question at the start of April. That said, his recent visit to Pittsburgh and subsequent leaving town without apparently signing a deal doesn’t necessarily mean that an ultimate return to his former team is entirely out of the question. For all we know, Dupree’s visit to Pittsburgh this past one may have been an exploratory one by both sides that included him undergoing a physical.