Bud Dupree had been a source of frustration among fans for his seeming lack of development and taking that next step. He is a freak athlete and the Steelers knew that when making him their selection in 2015.
Dupree was raw coming out of Kentucky but his athleticism was enough for the Steelers to pull the trigger. His speed and strength combo was exciting to add to the defense and pass rush.
From 2015 to 2018, Dupree had only tallied 20 sacks, 30 tackles for loss and 33 QB hits. The 2019 season was his contract year and he delivered big time.
Dupree’s 2019 season consisted of 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and 17 QB hits. He had the year Steelers fans had been longing to see from him.
He and T.J. Watt formed one of the better edge duos in the league in 2019. The Steelers knew that and could not let Dupree walk away this year and franchise tagged him for the 2020 season.
The team has expressed interest in signing him to a long term deal but there is no guarantee it gets done before the deadline. Dupree may play the season on that tag and, if he can reproduce his 2019 season again, he could price himself out of Pittsburgh.
The Steelers will not want to break up the duo of Dupree and Watt but, if the price is too large, they may have no choice. The team has many of their key players coming up for new deals and will have some tough decisions headed their way next offseason.
The Steelers have all five of these players for the 2020 season but their future in Pittsburgh is anyone’s guess. If they all perform well, it will make the Steelers decisions on who to pay that much more difficult as they build the roster for 2021 and beyond.