The Pittsburgh Steelers will keep their outside linebacker around for at least two more years.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Pittsburgh Steelers have picked up Bud Dupree’s fifth-year option. The outside linebacker is now signed with the team through 2019, and will make more than $9 million next season.
Dupree, Pittsburgh’s 2015 first-round draft pick, has dealt with injuries through his first three seasons. Last year, he played in 15 games after missing most of the 2016 season with a muscle tear in his core. He contributed 40 tackles and six sacks from the outside.
Many didn’t expect the Steelers to pick up Dupree’s option and instead turn to negotiations next offseason. $9 million will make him a top 10 highest paid player on the roster in 2019, believing Le’Veon Bell gets a long-term deal before then.
This ultimately eliminates all outside linebacker needs in the 2018 NFL Draft. The class doesn’t contain many stars at the position, but Pittsburgh could’ve found a player worthy of a second or third round pick.
Now, they’ll hope Dupree continues to improve and rely on Anthony Chickillo as the primary reserve. With Cameron Sutton coming into the season healthy, both players will have a bigger role in pass rush instead of dropping into coverage.
As the team hunts for a championship, they’ll look to keep everything in tact. The 2018 NFL Draft will provide plenty of details on their last remaining offseason question – what’s happening with Le’Veon Bell. Outside of that, this roster is pretty much ready for 2018.
Dupree should be hunting for somewhere near 10 sacks this season. He and T.J. Watt will be the primary focus of the linebacker core, as Jon Bostic and Vince Williams contain the middle.
A strong pass rush from the outside should cause a lot of trouble for opposing offenses. Adding stardom to their secondary, Pittsburgh could be a force on the defensive end this upcoming season.