In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Alvin “Bud” Dupree out of Kentucky. After a handful of seasons, Dupree earned 31.5 sacks, 200 tackles, and six forced fumbles.
The speedy Dupree helped the Steel Curtain revitalize in the latter half of the 2019 season. However, the Steelers salary cap ranks 31st in the league. With the lack of money, Dupree is on the fence for walking away or being franchise tagged.
The franchise tag is approximately $16 million. Although a high offer is Dupree worth every cent?
Dupree deserves the tag
The Steelers have ranked first in quarterback pressure, sacks, second in quarterback knockdowns, and seventh in hurries. With the coverage perfected after the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, the front line has dominated offensive lines.
Dupree’s quickness off the line and disturbing the pass lanes helped affect those stats. Plus, the speedy edge rusher dominated the contain. He helped shut down Lamar Jackson in their first matchup against the Ravens.
Although Dupree’s pressure to sack rate is average, he has boosted into borderline Pro Bowl numbers with quarterback hits. His presence is felt as his quarterback hit percentage was 20 percent higher the last season than his career average.
For run defense, Dupree dominated the zone and outside runs. He was not able to blow through the offensive line, but his movement allowed him to force running backs to run flat and not cut upfield.
In fact, DVOA run defense stats have the Steelers’ left side run defense, where Dupree lines up, first. T.J. Watt’s right side ranked tenth.
Lastly, the edge-rushing class does not have depth, and many teams need a pass rusher. With the Steelers sitting until Round 2 in the draft, it is wise to stick with Dupree for another year.
Overall, the Steelers passing rush won’t take a massive hit if Dupree walks, but the team chemistry built and the run defense will be affected.
Dupree is gone
Dupree’s pass rush is one-sided. If he cannot use his speed to get around you, he is in trouble. Plus, this last season, he rarely dropped into pass coverage. His speed does not coincide well with his pass coverage.
Although Dupree is a good edge rusher, his tag of near $16 million causes havoc. The Steelers salary cap is emptied, and the Steelers need to dive into free agency as well as the draft.
In addition to Vance McDonald’s payday, the Steelers’ lack of money means they will struggle to acquire their rookie picks and bonus pickups in free agency. Although the team is a few components away from a seventh title, they need money and options to move forward.
Dupree’s franchise tag hinders all of these options from arriving in Pittsburgh.
Despite the chemistry and success last season, Dupree walking means a cheaper yet, better edge rusher in free agency.
Pittsburgh’s variety can land them with Arik Armstead, Dante Fowler, Shaquil Barrett, or the unlikely reach of Jadeveon Clowney.
Although Dupree was a debatable Pro Bowler, his numbers can match well with any of these guys if they wore the black and yellow.
Overall, his disappearance will hurt for a short time to the community; however, it can help rebuild the money problem and bright future for the Steelers.
Dupree began a legacy in Pittsburgh. The beloved “Bud” is a one-of-a-kind quick edge rusher. Even though he will most likely return, the smart option is to release the one-trick pony and bring in a fresh face to match with Watt.
The run defense falls slightly because of the release of Dupree, but it helps the team more than it hurts.