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Bud Dupree’s potential 5th year option is all about High Risk vs. High Reward for the Steelers

The Steelers have a tough decision on their hands, and it revolves around the risk and reward of Bud Dupree’s 5th year option.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2018 NFL Draft gets closer, the main positions of need continue to be the most obvious ones for the Pittsburgh Steelers: inside linebacker, quarterback, safety, etc. However, Kevin Colbert has a different decision at hand on whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Bud Dupree.

Last season saw Dupree for the first time in his career be elevated to a starter. He was available for 15 games, despite enduring a shoulder injury that kept out of the season opener. He has earned a career playing an average of 13 games.

The biggest concern with Colbert and the Steelers is that Dupree has been injury prone, but with one being significant. In 2016 he was placed on injured reserve in the preseason with a groin injury, but was able to finish strong with 4.5 sacks — second-most on the team behind James Harrison.

The question now becomes with Ryan Shazier’s injury still looming, is he still worth the gamble?

The front office has until May 3rd to pick up his fifth-year option that would ensure his 2019 contract (for injury only) of about $9 million for one year’s service (seventh highest-paid player on the roster). This would be a strong sign he’d be on the roster for the foreseeable future, and not just through 2019. As noted by the 2011 CBA, the top 10 first round selections get paid an equal salary of the top 10 salaries of their position, then the remaining picks of the first round, the wage is the average of the third through 25th highest salaries at the position.

Colbert’s still undecided at this point, “That is something that we don’t have to deal with until May, so that is something that we will look at down the road,” Colbert said.

Even though they technically don’t have to make their decision until after the Draft, history has shown they have exercised fifth-year options on guys like Cam Heyward, David DeCastro, and Ryan Shazier all before the Draft. The only concern at this point is the lack of depth at the OLB position. Currently, Arthur Moats isn’t signed, Anthony Chickillo will be an unrestricted free agent next season, and despite their full confidence in Keion Adams, he has yet to play an NFL snap.

It begs the question, does the $9 million signing become more of a financial risk? Dupree was taken off the field during the game against New England back in December which saw him play about 57-percent of the overall defensive snaps. One former NFL player, Chuck Smith believes he is worth the risk.

He currently runs the Chuck Smith Training Program in suburban Atlanta and Dupree is one of his top pupils. Smith has called him a “freak” and told CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco, “that Dupree can be a future NFL Defensive Player of the Year.” For a team who’s worked very hard to be bring their defense back to prominence, I think this is a vital move.

The Steelers can’t turn a blind eye on this situation. Despite drafting and developing stars through the draft, they still have a little bit of a history of retaining big names. From a financial standpoint, they wouldn’t have to worry about any signing bonuses counting against the cap since the guaranteed money would be a part of his base salary.

At this point, the team has to wonder if the risk of Dupree’s injury history, or lack of production, is worth the overall cost for the 5th year option. Sure, the team could not extend the 5th year option, and try to negotiate a better deal, one far less tahn $9 million dollars, but would risk Dupree going to the highest bidder in free agency.

Then again, Dupree also could be due for a breakout season, and risking heading into 2018 without the option could see a budding superstar hit free agency when he could still be under the team’s control for at least another season.

What do you think the Steelers should do with Bud Dupree? Let us know by voting in the poll below!


What should the Steelers do with Bud Dupree’s 5th year option?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Lock him up...give him the option
    (496 votes)
  • 17%
    Look to the NFL Draft for help
    (167 votes)
  • 30%
    Take the risk and don’t give him the option
    (290 votes)
953 votes total Vote Now