3 cheaper free agent options at OLB if Steelers can’t sign Bud Dupree
The Steelers want to keep their defensive core together, but a contract extension for Bud Dupree will not be cheap. Here are some backup options in free agency.
After assembling one of the league’s best defensive units, head coach Mike Tomlin has made it abundantly clear that keeping edge defender Bud Dupree is a “priority” for the Steelers this offseason. However, sometimes things are easier said than done.
Dupree is coming off by far the best season of his NFL career. The fifth-year edge rusher managed to collect 68 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, 17 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries in 2019 – each mark a new career-high.
Dupree, a former first-round pick of the Steelers in 2015, is finally emerging into the player Pittsburgh had hoped he would be. Unfortunately, his sudden emergence into stardom is coming at a very inopportune time.
After just one great season with the Steelers, Dupree is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and retaining his services won’t come cheap. The edge defender needs a new contract, and it has been rumored that he could perhaps earn upwards of $16 million per season.
The Steelers are 30th in the NFL in cap space heading into the offseason, and several cuts or restructures would have to occur just to make this move possible. Though Pittsburgh could come up with the money to retain Dupree, he knows he is worth more on the open market, and the Steelers won’t be able to offer up as much money as other teams will be willing to.
Because of this, the franchise tag is a likely option for this offseason. However, if for some reason Pittsburgh would like to forego this option altogether, there are many quality options at outside linebacker set to hit free agency this offseason.
While it’s too early to predict which players may be retained by their current teams, there is no doubt that some will be available for bidding. Here are three edge defenders who would be cheaper alternatives to Bud Dupree if the Steelers look for help in free agency this offseason: