Bud Dupree‘s time with the Titans didn’t go according to plan, but a return to a familiar team could be in the cards. The veteran edge rusher is set to visit the Steelers, as noted (on Twitter) by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Dupree spent the first six years of his career in Pittsburgh, and he enjoyed considerable career growth during that time. A first-round pick in 2015, he was a full-time starter by his third season and a key producer by the end of his rookie contract. Playing on the fifth-year option, the Kentucky product posted a career-best 11.5 sacks in 2019, and followed that up with another eight on the franchise tag the following season.
Those totals made Dupree a hot commodity on the open market, and earned him a massive deal with the Titans. That five-year, $82MM contract carried hefty expectations for player and team, but Dupree struggled to stay healthy during his time in Nashville. He was limited to 11 contests in both of his Titans campaigns, and, more worryingly, failed to produce at the level he showed he was capable of during his time in Pittsburgh.
Dupree totaled only seven sacks with the Titans, putting up underwhelming pressure numbers relative to his contract. It thus came as little surprise when Tennessee released him in a cost-cutting move earlier in the offseason. That allowed the Titans to turn their attention elsewhere in the edge rush department, leaving Dupree as one of several veteran pass rushers on the open market this year.
Now 30, he could be well-served to return to the Steelers. The team has T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith at the top of their depth chart, with the latter entering the final year of his rookie contract. That tandem has proved highly effective for Pittsburgh, though their defensive pressure fell considerably when Watt was sidelined early in the 2022 season. Dupree could serve as a high-end insurance policy and experienced rotational rusher in the event he agreed to a short-term deal worth far less than what he received the last time he was a free agent.