When you stick with a player through the rough stretches of their career, it’s only natural that you want to reap the benefits once they start to turn things around. By all accounts, that is what Bud Dupree did last season while playing on his fifth-year option. Dupree earned career-high marks in overall grade (77.7), total pressures (51), sacks (13 by PFF’s count) and forced fumbles (4). His 75.0 run-defense grade was a top-20 mark at the position, flashing on the tape with impressive plays on the backfield. In nearly every aspect of his play, it was a career year for Dupree.
Additionally, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense looked more like the defense of the late 2000s than the group that they have trotted out onto the field in recent seasons. The Steelers ended the year ranked second among all defenses in expected points allowed per play, carrying the league’s worst offense in the same metric to an 8-8 record.
All of this — the first-round investment in Dupree, the down years in which the Steelers stuck by his side, his career year in 2019 that signals a potential turning of the corner, and his starting spot on a defense that the city of Pittsburgh rallied around last season — leads to a situation where many are willing to either franchise tag Dupree or offer him a long-term contract that will make him one of the better-paid edge defenders in the NFL.
That, ladies and gentlemen, would be a mistake.
Dupree’s 2019 season was a story of more splash plays, not more consistent pressure