Steelers OLB Bud Dupree does not deserve the franchise tag or lofty extension

Tommy Jaggi
Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

The Steelers have a decision to make with outside linebacker Bud Dupree, but it’s looking like any choice to bring him back could be the wrong one.

The Steelers defense in 2019 was better than it has been for nearly a decade. When you think of all of their top performers from this season, players like T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Heyward come to mind. Not Bud Dupree.

Dupree is an afterthought; a sidekick. He’s not Batman, he’s Robin at best. If he were an Avenger, he would be Hawkeye or Black Widow – not Iron Man or Captain America. Nerdish analogies aside, I truly do not believe that Bud Dupree is worth a franchise tag or a loft contract extension the Steelers may offer him this offseason.

A franchise tag for Bud Dupree is estimated at $16 million in 2020 – a number that would make him the second-highest-paid player on the team, according to Over The Cap. Though Dupree had his best season to date in 2019, it doesn’t come without a barrage of questions: Was he playing harder for a new deal? Can he repeat (or dare I say expand) on his performance in 2019? Was he the beneficiary of T.J. Watt drawing the attention? The list goes on and on.

A franchise tag for Dupree would have him making more money than players like Calais Campbell, Danielle Hunter, Carlos Dunlap, and Ryan Kerrigan – all players who are wildly more productive and proven than Dupree.

While tagging Bud Dupree might prove to be a waste of money, giving him a contract extension could prove to be worse. According to, Bud Dupree’s estimated market value is $16.6 million per season. In addition, it’s hard to gauge how much guaranteed money Pittsburgh would have to fork up.

As the Steelers often do, they could choose to backload Dupree’s new deal in an attempt to free up money in the short term. However, a new deal for the former first-round pick means that it’s unlikely Pittsburgh could get out of his deal for at least the first three seasons without taking a massive loss.

While Dupree’s 68 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and 16 tackles for a loss seem really impressive on paper, the Steelers need to look at it in context. Dupree played an outrageous amount of defensive snaps (980) last year, and his 10.1 percent pressure rate was tied for just 63rd out of 99 qualifying edge defenders, according to Pro Football Focus.

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It’s true that the Steelers need to find someone they can count on for the foreseeable future across from T.J. Watt. But with just one good season in five years, is Bud Dupree the answer they are looking for? The franchise tag is not something that should be thrown around lightly, and Pittsburgh may want to consider spending that money on a less risky player.