The Pittsburgh Steelers have left some holes open within their roster, such as at wide receiver and at outside linebacker, without replenishing the position. At least not yet. They’ve lost players elsewhere while adding back, and strengthened other groups, namely the offensive line.
The team has already declared itself continually active in addressing the roster before the draft, recently adding safety Keanu Neal and defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko. They have also visited with outside linebacker Bud Dupree, their former first-round pick, though no deal has been struck—yet. Should it? NFL analyst Brian Baldinger believes they should.
“I would invest in him because you’re gonna need three guys on the edge”, he told Ron Cook and Joe Starkey on 93.7 The Fan last week. “T.J. [Watt] has missed games. I like what I’ve seen from day one from [Alex] Highsmith and his development”.
“But Bud Dupree knows the defense, knows the culture, he knows how he fits in. If they can figure the money part, I would think, welcome him back. I think he would love to come back to Pittsburgh”, he added. “I’d welcome him back”.
The 22nd-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Dupree spent the first six seasons of his career in Pittsburgh. He was not a full-time starter until his third season, in no small part due to injuries—he missed most of year two—but he really came into his own in his final two seasons here.
And as a result, he earned a big contract on the open market in 2021. Dupree signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans, from which they just released him two years in. They even owe him $1.5 million for this season, as it was already guaranteed, but they still owed him the majority of the deal.
His time with the Titans was a period to forget, unfortunately for him, with injuries continuing to be a part of the story. He was still recovering from a torn ACL in his first season with them, and he was nagged by injury throughout 2022 as well.
Now 30 years old, it would be unreasonable to predict that his health luck is going to swing in a more positive direction, but stepping into a reserve role would save wear and tear on his body. And it would do the same for their established starters, Watt and Highsmith.
As Baldinger points out, Dupree would likely welcome the opportunity to come back to Pittsburgh, where he enjoyed six seasons. It only hinges upon dollar value and role, and if he can find a more substantial opportunity elsewhere, I imagine a deal is only a matter of time.
With the draft coming, it’s possible that nothing happens before then. The Steelers may even have a conversation with him, waiting to see how the draft plays out, with the potential to get a deal done afterward.