Reunion? Titans to Release Former Steelers OLB Bud Dupree
The Tennessee Titans are expected to release former Steelers OLB Bud Dupree, saving them $17 million against the cap while opening up Dupree and the Steelers for a potential reunion.
Pittsburgh has two great outside linebackers in T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, but has long searched for a key rotational pass rusher since Dupree left to head to Nashville following the 2020 season. In his two seasons in Tennessee, Dupree racked up just 7 sacks in 22 games played. Now, just two years into a 5-year, $82.5 million contract, Dupree is out of Tennessee just like that.
Bud Dupree was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Kentucky. Once it appeared likely the Titans would move on from Dupree, this scenario seemed more likely. He tore his ACL in his final season with the Steelers, opening up the lane for Alex Highsmith to step into the role. From 2015 to 2020, Dupree racked up 38.5 sacks with Pittsburgh.
So, could the reunion actually happen? It all depends on what Dupree wants. I would say the Steelers are going to be interested, and that is all good. While Dupree does not do much on special teams, there is precedent here for the Steelers doing this with Melvin Ingram. And frankly, how that situation played out should not discourage them from trying this method, especially one where Dupree knows the team as well as he does.
But is Dupree willing to be a third guy? Highsmith and Watt are entrenched in their roles. He has to be willing to take that on, and it has to be at a reasonable price. At this stage in his career, that could fit Dupree, but anyone in his position would look for a prove-it-deal in a starting role first. If this does end up happening, I’d expect it to happen down the line. Dupree has to explore his market and see if he can land that prove-it-deal from somewhere in the NFL.
But if that all fails? I would expect to see Dupree back in Pittsburgh. However, Dupree is still good enough to start in this league and should find a soft landing somewhere as a guy who can go out there and prove he still has more than enough in the tank.