There will be no homecoming for former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree, as he has instead agreed to a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons, according to a report by Zach Klein of WSB Atlanta. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Dupree’s one-year deal with Atlanta is worth up to $5 million.
Dupree was released by the Tennessee Titans earlier this offseason after struggling through two injury-plagued seasons with the Titans. Dupree visited Pittsburgh earlier this month and there seemed to be mutual interest between the two sides, but he left without a contract. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Steelers wanted to sign Dupree to a two-year contract, likely for salary cap reasons, but he wanted a one-year deal.
In Atlanta, Dupree will join an outside linebacker position group that includes Lorenzo Carter, former New Orleans Saints edge rusher Kaden Ellis, who signed a three-year free agent contract earlier this offseason, and 2022 second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie from Penn State.
The Steelers have been searching for a third outside linebacker since they promoted Alex Highsmith from that role to replace Dupree. They tried Melvin Ingram in that role in 2021, but he demanded a trade citing a lack of playing time.
The Steelers traded for Malik Reed before the 2022 season, but he failed to make an impact, despite plenty of chances with an injury to T.J. Watt. Reed signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent earlier this offseason. The Steelers did not make a concerted attempt to retain him.
With Dupree choosing to sign with Atlanta, the Steelers will re-set that search, likely first looking for answers in the 2023 NFL Draft before choosing to return to the free agent market at this point.
The Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Dupree played six seasons in Pittsburgh before leaving as a free agent. The Kentucky alum will be returning his roots with the Falcons. Dupree was born in Macon, Georgia and attended high school in Irwinton, Georgia, with is about two hours southeast of Atlanta.