It’s mid June. In case you couldn’t tell, we have entered into the dead season for the NFL in what would be a typical year. Throw in the lack of team activities due to the global pandemic and NFL news is sometimes very hard to come by.
When this is the case, it is almost a guarantee someone in the national sports media will supply an interesting take on the Steelers which goes to show how little they know about the team. Once again, enter Bleacher Report to show how little they know about what’s going on in the Steel City.
In an article published on Monday, the sports website offered a suggestion for each of the 32 NFL teams as to who would be a good player for them to trade before the start of the season. Looking at blockbuster deals in the past for players such as Jadeveon Clowney and Laremy Tunsil in 2019, each team’s choice was more about a flash move than the type of deal the Steelers generally make during training camp.
So who was their choice for the Steelers? None other then the Steelers most recent player with whom they used the franchise tag, one Alvin “Bud” Dupree.
If the Steelers were truly interested in moving on from Dupree, they could have let him walk without using the franchise tag and would have most likely received a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2021. Instead, the Steelers chose to fork over the nearly $16 million for the 2020 season in order to sure up the outside linebacker position.
Before going deeper as to why the Steelers really have no interest in moving Bud Dupree, let’s take a look at the explanation given by Bleacher Report.
Pass-rushers are valuable, which is why the Pittsburgh Steelers placed the franchise tag on linebacker Bud Dupree this offseason. The Steelers should now see what sort of value they can get out of dealing Dupree to another team.
The reality is that signing Dupree to a lucrative long-term deal now doesn’t make a ton of sense. He has just one year of high-end production—with 11.5 sacks in 2019 and 20 combined sacks in the four previous years. It’s possible the one strong year was a fluke.
By trading Dupree, Pittsburgh would avoid the worst-case scenario—paying $15.8 million for a player who doesn’t produce like one—while also netting a high draft pick or quality player in return. Pittsburgh has just under $6 million in cap space now, so dealing Dupree would also free up valuable cap space that could be used on another position of need, like cornerback or running back.
First of all, it just goes to show how much Bleacher Report has not learned when it comes to the cornerback position in Pittsburgh. Having an article early in the offseason which claimed the Steelers had no one to play opposite of Joe Haden, one would think a credible source would remedy the issue. Instead, they’ve doubled down to say the Steelers need some extra cap space to go sign another cornerback.
Then there’s the notion of running back. With the Steelers having a Pro Bowl—yet injury riddled—rusher in James Conner, along with second-year player Benny Snell Jr. in the backfield, the Steelers would not have drafted a running back in the fourth round if they felt the needed to add yet another via free agency.
So now that we’ve tackled the issues where Bleacher Report says the Steelers need to spend their money, let’s go back and see if trading Dupree makes sense for the 2020 season.
First, the Steelers are not exactly dealing with proven depth at the outside linebacker position. Yes, the Steelers spent a third-round draft pick on Alex Highsmith, but the team did not make the selection banking on Highsmith being ready to start Week 1 of 2020. And with Toledo linebackers Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper rounding out the depth chart, there’s limited experience with the Steelers reserves.
So if the Steelers are not interested in moving Dupree before 2020, are there any players they could trade before the start of the season?
Actually, I tackle this issue last Tuesday along with my brother on the Steelers Stat Geek podcast. The Steelers are much more likely to trade a player at a position where they have more depth than what they can keep. Were the Steelers to make a move, chances are they would trade a player from a position of running back, wide receiver, offensive line, or even possibly defensive line. But trading away a starter? It’s highly unlikely.
There were some Steelers fans who felt using the franchise tag on Bud Dupree would be best utilized in trading him before this season. But it’s fair to say a number of those fans would have used Dupree in a trade for more equity in the 2020 draft. So is it more important for the Steelers to have their best pieces intact for a run in 2020, or to gain draft capital in 2021? Personally, I think the Steelers are focused more on this season.
So what are your thoughts? Is Bud Dupree the most likely player for the Steelers to trade before the season? Or do you think the Steelers will move a lesser named player for a late round draft pick? Or is this season where the Steelers will either stand pat or be buyers when it comes to the trading of players? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.
For the entire article from Bleacher Report and their choices for every NFL team as to who they should trade, click HERE.