After four rather unspectacular seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bud Dupree picked the worst time to have a breakout campaign.
With the start of free agency right around the corner, one lingering question for the Steelers remains: What is gonna happen with the Bud Dupree? The free-agent edge rusher burst onto the scene this year with 11.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in his fifth season. While this sort of production would be tough to lose, the underlying numbers show that a tag and trade would be the best option for the Steelers.
Prior to this past year, Dupree averaged 5 sacks per season. He had a career-high of 6 back in the 2017 season. On top of that, Dupree accumulated a grand total of 2 forced fumbles from 2015-2018. While those numbers are ok, by no means do they display a player that should get a hefty contract.
Dupree’s production this season can be directly correlated to the explosion of T.J. Watt becoming one of the league’s best defensive players. While you can’t knock Dupree for taking advantage of the lesser attention given to him, he has not proven himself capable of handling the duties of being the team’s number one pass rusher. With that being said, the Steelers should not give Dupree the honor of paying him like one.
With very limited cap space, the Steelers can’t afford to lock themselves into another huge contract. However, being that edge rusher is a premium position in the NFL, Dupree would probably warrant a nice return if the Steelers decide to go the ‘tag and trade’ route.
In past seasons, edge rushers such as Dee Ford, Frank Clark, and Jadeveon Clowney have all been tagged and traded for a plethora of draft picks. Clark, in particular, was traded to the Chiefs for a First, Second, and exchange of 3rd round selections. While Clark has been more consistent over the course of his career than Dupree, it was actually Dupree who outplayed Clark this season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dupree finished as the 24th best edge rusher this season compared to Clark who ranked 66th. While this was undoubtedly Dupree’s best season of his career, a team in need of pass-rush help would be more than willing to pay a hefty fee to obtain his services.
With the Steelers in a rather difficult position this off-season, trading Dupree would provide much-needed resources that can seriously help the team in the present and future.
Due to the fact that Dupree only flourished when playing second fiddle to T.J. Watt, the Steelers should be able to find a younger, cheaper option through the draft who could provide a very similar impact as Dupree. For example, prospects such as Josh Uche, Curtis Weaver, or Zack Baun would all be great choices to replace Dupree as the second option to Watt.
Anyone playing next to T.J. Watt would have an easier time producing, there is no reason for the team to get stuck with another massive contract on the books. The tag and trade of Dupree would be the best option for the Steelers moving forward.