The Pittsburgh Steelers are still up in the air about signing Bud Dupree’s fifth-year option. To make the problem simple for Pittsburgh, the answer is easy; do not sign it.
Bud Dupree is a bust no one is willing to deem a bust. A player with as much upside as any on this roster, everyone is sitting around year-after-year hoping this is the season the 2015 first-round pick finally reaches his potential.
Yet, year in and year out, Dupree continues to disappoint. Not slightly disappoint with signs of improvement. Clear and utter lack of progression forcing Pittsburgh to consider moving on every offseason.
For an edge rusher who is the prototype of today’s outside linebacker, Dupree should be making James Harrison comparisons already. Working with one of the all-time greats, Chuck Smith, and being handed the starting job almost immediately after being drafted, the linebacker has no excuses not to succeed.
But he hasn’t. Dupree’s best year was this past season, where he racked up 40 tackles and six sacks. Coming off a seven game year due to a preseason groin injury, Dupree had high hopes for 2017.
Ultimately, though, he was a non-factor for this defense once again. Leaving Pittsburgh with a difficult but easy decision in bringing him back for his fifth season.
Dupree’s fifth-year option would make him $9 million in 2019. That would make the outside linebacker Pittsburgh’s seventh-highest paid player on the roster. Leaving the simple question as to what’s more important; keeping an unproductive edge rusher or signing Le’Veon Bell long-term?
Bell probably isn’t going to get his money this offseason. With the draft approaching and free agency ending, the Steelers aren’t focused on negotiating deals for the time being. When they return to contract talks in May, they’re going to have a tight timetable to secure a deal before the July 16 deadline.
Therefore, the contract gets pushed into next spring. How the Steelers’ finances will look come that time are debatable, but handing Dupree $9 million of cap space for a single season doesn’t seem like a smart money move for Pittsburgh.
Then, there’s the fact that it’s the Steel City and Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin are two of the NFL’s greatest negotiators. Don’t believe it? Look at Morgan Burnett’s $2,416,666 cap hit for 2018.
These two can bring in a veteran outside backer for minimum money and move on from a four-year player nowhere near worth $9 million. Or, they can look into the draft and find someone worthy of a first or second round pick.
There are too many options to settle for a player who’s not worth settling for. This team is debating on whether or not to re-sign Ryan Shazier, who may never play football, with the same consideration as handing Dupree a fifth-year. That screams uncertainty, and for this much money, it’s no where near a reasonable action.
Pittsburgh needs to move on from a promising young player with no signs of reaching his potential. If three years down the road Dupree is a Pro Bowler in a different uniform, good for him. But you don’t make financial decisions in the NFL based off of what-ifs.
The stats say he’s not worth it. That leaves another question to be answered next season, but for the chance to bring in a more talented edge rusher, there is no debate. Signing Bud Dupree’s fifth-year option does nothing but take $9 million away from a team who needs it, for a player who doesn’t deserve it.