Former Steelers EDGE Bud Dupree signs with the Falcons

Steelers, Bud Dupree
Steelers, Bud Dupree / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Since the Tennesee Titans announced that they would be releasing Bud Dupree at the start of the 2023 free agency period, Pittsburgh Steelers fans were immediately banging the table for a potential reunion. Dupree has dealt with a number of injuries since leaving the Steel City, and many hoped a return to Pittsburgh would solve their atrocious depth issues.

Unfortunately, this isn't happening. On Friday, April 14th, ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news that Dupree is signing a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

This was a sucker punch to many Steelers fans hoping for his return. After T.J. Watt landed on IR with a pectoral injury in 2022, we witnessed just how important it is to have a quality rotational player on the edge. Malik Reed was not that guy.

Fans envisioned Dupree coming off the bench for the Steelers and spelling Watt and Alex Highsmith of snaps. This move comes less than two weeks before the start of the NFL Draft, and after cutting Jamir Jones (who had recently signed his restricted tender), Pittsburgh is left extremely thin at the EDGE position.

Steelers missing out on Bud Dupree is no big deal

I know that this is a move that many fans wanted to see, but I don't think it's a big deal that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't sign Dupree. In fact, it might prove to be better for them in the long run. We are approaching a remarkably deep draft class when it comes to the edge defender position, and Omar Khan and Andy Weidl may have a plan to dip into this talent pool.

If the Steelers were to stumble upon a quality edge defender as early as day two of the 2023 NFL Draft, they would be left with an issue: the player they draft would be forced to be the team's fourth edge. This is because Bud Dupree has almost zero experience in special teams coverage units -- a role the fourth outside linebacker must be able to handle.

This means that, even if the player they draft (potentially early) proves to be better than Dupree, they would also be the player responsible for running down the field in every special teams situation.

Like it or not, I think that waiting until after the draft to see where the talent falls is the right move. Dupree certainly isn't a great player at this stage of his career with all of the injuries he has sustained. The Falcons will be fortunate to get respectable play out of him. In the event that the Steelers don't take an edge defender (or don't address the position until late in the draft), there are still players very similar to Dupree that they could sign for cheap.

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I know the return of Bud Dupree playing alongside T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith would have made for a nice story, but I really don't think he would have improved the defense much at this stage. The Steelers know they have a need for an upgrade when it comes to the edge depth. Let's just trust the process and see how this unfolds in the NFL Draft.