Steelers Rumors: Bud Dupree could reunite in Pittsburgh with his former team

Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Bud Dupree is looking for work and NFL teams are interested. One of those teams is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dupree, a former first-round pick of the Steelers back in 2015, played six seasons in The Steel City before stints with the Titans and Falcons.

Recently, ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported that Dupree concluded a visit with the Chargers and has been talking to the Steelers and Falcons.

Dupree started and played 16 games for the Atlanta Falcons in 2023 where he recorded 39 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 8 QB hits, and 6.5 sacks, per Pro Football Reference.

Dupree is now 31 years old and getting set to enter his 10th NFL season, but it appears the Steelers have an interest in bringing back their former high draft picks.

Bud Dupree isn't the EDGE help Steelers need

Outside of T.J. Watt landing on IR with a pectoral injury in 2022, it's hard to say there was ever a time that the Pittsburgh Steelers really missed Bud Dupree. Watt has flourished since Dupree departed in free agency -- earning Defensive Player of the Year honors quickly after he left. Meanwhile, Alex Highsmith has proved to be a better compliment to Watt as the other edge defender for Pittsburgh.

Now it seems the window has passed altogether for Dupree to make an impact on the Steelers. In 2023, Omar Khan selected former Wisconsin EDGE Nick Herbig in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Herbig showed tremendous promise as a rookie thanks to his explosiveness and bend as a pass rusher.

Signing a veteran like Dupree would indicate another small role for Herbig in his second season, and that's not what Steelers fans should be hoping for. Given the same opportunities, I have little doubt that Herbig offers more as a pass rusher than Dupree at this stage of his career.

Where the Steelers could use Dupree is setting the edge in early-down work as a run defender. This has always been the best area of his game. At 6'4'' and 269 pounds, Dupree uses his impressive combination of strength and speed to slow down opposing rushing attacks.

The biggest issue with Dupree potentially joining the team is his inability to play special teams. This is something that Dupree did more often in his early years; however, over the past three seasons, the veteran pass rusher has logged just 21 special teams snaps (17 of which came back in 2021).

Because Dupree won't assist the Steelers in this department, Herbig would be forced back into a special teams role instead of being a pass-rush specialist who can come in and help on passing situations.

There's no question the Steelers could use a fourth edge defender for the 2024 season, but Bud Dupree isn't the answer they are looking for.