There was a time when we here at BTSC called Bud Dupree, Bud ‘The Dud’. Dud referred to the fact Dupree, as a first round pick out of Kentucky, never lived up to the hype. In fact, some were referring to him being a draft day bust as he never even came close to sniffing double digit sacks.
Then in 2019, after the Steelers picked up his 5th year option on his rookie contract, Dupree exploded in a contract season. He finished the year with 11.5 sacks, 68 combined tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, 17 QB Hits, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
He had one heck of a season, but just look at the numbers from 2019 compared to his first four seasons in the league. I feel it is here where I point out Dupree did battle injuries throughout the majority of his first four years in the NFL.
The Steelers are now faced with a tough decision. Both Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney II have labeled Dupree as a priority for the team this offseason, but they also don’t have a ton of salary cap space to commit to Dupree compared to what he would draw on the open market.
The Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag is always an option, but the Steelers must possess the salary cap space, roughly $16 million dollars, before placing the tag on Dupree. Right now the team has under $4 million dollars in cap space.
If they wanted, they could work out a long term deal with Dupree, but it will be costly and the team has to think about T.J. Watt needing to be signed to a monster deal when his rookie contract ends in two seasons.
Meanwhile, Dupree’s offseason has been short. He hasn’t been sitting on a beach somewhere sipping on a pina colada. No, Dupree is working with Coach Dez Walker, pass rushing specialist, in hopes of continuing to hone his craft.
Come @chucksmithnfl you Know @Bud_Dupree coming with that !#VideoPassRushWar #SamuraiSack pic.twitter.com/E0qXTe4dsY— Coach Dez Walker (@CoachDez) January 17, 2020
It is a safe bet Dupree has heard the people saying how he played well just because it was a contract year, and how he isn’t fully prepared to duplicate the success he had in 2019 in 2020.
I will say this, if Dupree is smart, he realizes the success he had in 2019 with the Steelers might very well be tough to duplicate elsewhere. Not every team has a T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward to take pressure off him. In other words, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but for some players the money is always green no matter where they go.
If the Steelers want Dupree back, they will likely find a way to do so one way or another. I predict the franchise tag will be used on Dupree in hopes of getting him to sign a new deal. However, if the team doesn’t want to commit this type of money towards Dupree, they could let him walk in free agency and receive a compensatory draft pick in his place.
Tough decisions await, but Dupree is hard at work preparing for 2020. Will he be doing so in the black-and-gold? Only time will tell, but be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for another offseason.