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Bud Dupree considered one of the biggest risks as free agency approaches

The Pittsburgh Steelers might keep Bud Dupree, or he could hit free agency. Either way, there is a lot of risk involved.

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a difficult decision on their hands when it comes to outside linebacker Bud Dupree. As Dupree approaches free agency, they can do one of the following three things:

  • Place the Franchise Tag on Dupree, ensuring he at least plays the 2020 season in Pittsburgh.
  • Sign Dupree to a long-term contract, keeping him in Pittsburgh for years to come.
  • Let Dupree hit the free agent market and start preparing for life without the former No. 1 pick.

While some might view this decision and see a no-brainer, there is far more to this than meets the eye.

Keeping Dupree will cost a lot of money any way you slice it. Franchise tag him and you have to have over $16 million in cap space available to do so. This would require cutting a lot of players on the current roster to free up that required space.

Looking down the road you have to anticipate T.J. Watt’s ridiculous contract which is coming. Do you really want to lock all of that money, if you sign Dupree to a long term deal, in two players?

There is risk involving every decision an NFL team makes when it comes to contracts and roster moves, but according to the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF), Dupree is second on a long list of potential free agents who carry the most risk with them.

Take a look at what they had to say:


Rule number one of NFL free agency: never trust the sack totals. Dupree had double the amount of sacks in 2019 than he has had in any of his previous four seasons in the NFL. He made more impactful plays, but generated pressure on a per-play basis that failed to crack the 50th percentile.

Dupree had a poor pressure rate and was still average in winning rep-to-rep with just a 13.1% pass-rush win rate, ranking tied for 50th. With the handful of big impact plays, Dupree had a career year in 2019, producing a 76.3 pass-rush grade that was 24th at his position. His previous high in his first four seasons sat at just 61.0. That’s not good, folks. Dupree was good in 2019, but the historic play from him is too poor to pay for. Not to mention, sacks are more descriptive than predictive. Never trust the box score.

The one thing PFF fails to acknowledge about Dupree’s game, and an area which was vastly improved, was his run-stopping ability. Dupree set the edge, and also came crashing down the line of scrimmage, to help the defense corral the run in 2019.

However, the stats they provide don’t like when it comes to Dupree’s pass rushing. I can’t seem to get the dreaded “contract year performance” out of my head. Did Dupree turn the corner on his career, or did he catch lightning in a bottle when it meant a lucrative contract awaited in 2020?

Only time will tell, but there is no denying the risk involved with either bringing Dupree back, or letting him hit the open market.

What do you think the Steelers should do, as it pertains to Dupree? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC throughout the offseason for the best Steelers news on the web.