Bud Dupree

Titans Expected To Release OLB Bud Dupree

Bud Dupree came to the Titans two seasons ago, but his time in Nashville appears to be coming to an early end. Tennessee is expected to release the veteran pass rusher, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

Dupree enjoyed a productive six-year tenure in Pittsburgh to begin his career. That stint included playing the 2019 season on the fifth-year option, and the following campaign on the franchise tag. He racked up 19.5 sacks over that span, making him one of the top edge rushers on the market in 2021.

The Titans won out the competition to sign Dupree, inking him to a five-year, $82MM deal. That marked a major addition to the team’s pass-rushing corps, and led to substantial expectations. Instead, the former first-rounder has struggled to stay healthy during his time in Tennessee. An ACL tear suffered at the end of his Steelers career made the hefty Titans deal an even more surprising one, and has been followed by consecutive 11-game seasons. A chest injury landed him on IR in 2022.

More importantly, a lack of production will spur this parting of ways. Dupree has recorded only seven sacks during his two seasons with the Titans, a team which was desperate for help getting to the quarterback upon his signing. Cutting Dupree will result in $9.3MM in cap savings if done immediately, though that figure would jump to $15.75MM if designated as a post-June 1 release. The Kentucky product was due to carry cap hits ranging from $18.7MM to $20.2MM in the three years remaining on his pact.

Moving on from Dupree would mark an unsurprising development on the Titans’ part, and it would add further to the plethora of cost-cutting moves they have already made this offseason. Tennessee has parted ways with left tackle Taylor Lewan, receiver Robert Woods, kicker Randy Bullock and linebacker Zach Cunningham. Those decisions helped their cap situation considerably, but left them with a number of roster holes to fill. The same will of course be true if they do indeed subtract Dupree from a defense which ranked in the bottom half of the league with 39 sacks last season.

If Dupree were to hit the open market, he would get a slight head start on free agency compared to other edge rushers who won’t be eligible to sign until the new league year starts next week. The 2023 class is headlined by the likes of Yannick Ngakoue, Marcus Davenport, Jadeveon Clowney and Samson Ebukam.

Titans Place Ryan Tannehill, Bud Dupree, Zach Cunningham On IR

While Ryan Tannehill had been attempting to find a way to come back from his nagging ankle injury this season, the Titans are effectively shutting that effort down.

Tennessee placed Tannehill on IR on Thursday, and linebackers Bud Dupree and Zach Cunningham will join him on the league’s most populated IR list. All three players must miss a minimum of four games. Given the direction of Tennessee’s season, each is almost certainly done.

Mike Vrabel had attempted to go week to week with his starting quarterback, but a report last week indicated the ankle aggravation Tannehill suffered in Los Angeles was set to end his season. Tannehill, who missed two games with the ankle ailment earlier this year, went down again against the Chargers in Week 15 and needed to be carted off the field. He somehow managed to come back against the Bolts, scoring a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Tannehill, 34, underwent ankle surgery last week but had maintained efforts to potentially come back again. Instead, it will be Joshua Dobbs — signed last week off the Lions’ practice squad — taking the reins against the Cowboys tonight. It is uncertain if the Titans are merely going to Dobbs because of a conservation effort for a do-or-die Week 18 matchup against the Jaguars or if Malik Willis has indeed been benched. Willis has made three starts in relief of Tannehill but has struggled throughout his rookie year.

The Titans have Tannehill signed to a four-year, $118MM extension that runs through next season. The former Dolphins top-10 pick is due a $27MM base salary and is set to count more than $36MM against Tennessee’s cap. Tannehill is attached to a $38.6MM 2022 cap hit and has played with a far worse receiving situation compared to his previous Titans slates. Over the past two offseasons, the Titans have let Corey Davis walk and traded A.J. Brown. Ready replacements — a concern at this season’s outset — have not emerged, playing a major role in the team’s five-game losing streak.

Tennessee would save nearly $19MM by trading or releasing Tannehill next year, with that number rising with a post-June 1 release designation. Then again, the Titans have not exactly seen much from Willis — a third-round pick this year — to indicate he would be ready to take over. This season has marked Tannehill’s first injury-marred campaign with Tennessee. Knee injuries hounded the Texas A&M product in Miami, but since replacing Marcus Mariota in October 2019, Tannehill did not miss a game as a Titan until this season.

Dupree has been unable to escape injuries as a Titan. Signed to a lucrative deal despite coming off a November 2020 ACL tear, Dupree has missed 10 games with Tennessee. The former first-round pick has totaled just seven sacks in two seasons with the Titans, who needed more from the ex-Steeler after Harold Landry went down with an ACL tear just before the season. A chest injury will lead Dupree to IR this time.

The Titans just activated Cunningham from IR last week, bringing him back after he missed time with an elbow injury. He will head back to the injured list with an elbow injury. Tennessee claimed Dupree off waivers from Houston late last season and has used him exclusively as a starter. Injuries, however, will limit Cunningham to six games this season. The former second-round pick will likely become a cap-casualty candidate; the Titans could save more than $9MM by releasing the 28-year-old defender next year.

In addition to Tannehill, Dupree and Cunningham, Tennessee’s IR contingent includes the following players: Landry, Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, David Long, Elijah Molden, Caleb Farley, Dillon Radunz and Terrance Mitchell. Amy Adams Strunk cited the team’s recent injury problems as a reason for GM Jon Robinson‘s ouster months after his extension. After using an NFL-record 91 players last season, the Titans will end this one approaching that mark.

Titans To Start Joshua Dobbs Vs. Cowboys

The Titans are not exactly going into Thursday night’s Cowboys game with a clear intent to win. The injury-plagued team is planning to rest numerous starters, with a Week 18 date against the Jaguars set to determine its playoff fate.

But Tennessee will make an interesting change at quarterback. Rather than give Malik Willis more reps in his rookie season, the Titans are preparing to start recent acquisition Joshua Dobbs, Justin Melo of The Draft Network tweets. Tennessee brought in Dobbs on Dec. 21, with Ryan Tannehill out with an ankle injury. Tannehill is not expected to return this season, though the starter has not shut it down just yet.

A former Tennessee Volunteer, Dobbs has bounced around in the pros. The sixth-year backup has been with three teams just this year, moving from Cleveland to Detroit to Nashville over the past month. The former fourth-round pick has not thrown any regular-season passes this season; his most recent game work came in 2020 with the Steelers. The Browns signed Dobbs this offseason and used him as Jacoby Brissett‘s backup for much of the year, but once Deshaun Watson was eligible to play, Cleveland cut bait. Dobbs landed in Detroit, but Tennessee poached him from the Lions’ practice squad.

Dobbs has seen most of his NFL work come in the preseason, and the Titans’ Week 17 lineup will have the look of an August matchup. Tennessee placed O-line starters Nate Davis and Ben Jones on IR last week, and the team will be without right tackle starter Nicholas Petit-Frere against Dallas. With Taylor Lewan out of the picture, the Titans will deploy basically a second-string O-line tonight. While Willis’ early work points to extensive development being needed, the Titans may be leery of putting the third-round pick behind this set of blockers against a top-tier Cowboys pass rush.

In an arrangement that will surely test Al Michaels’ patience, Titans will also sit Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Amani Hooker, Bud Dupree and Zach Cunningham. Oh, and they are unlikely to deploy Derrick Henry, who is doubtful with a hip injury. This sets up an unusual Week 17 and an odd Week 18 plan. The Titans look like they will be trying to salvage their season in Jacksonville next week on the heels of a six-game losing streak. Even if the Titans drop to 7-9 tonight, the AFC South will be on the line next week.

Willis has shown some promise in the run game but has looked woefully overmatched through the air. The mid-major product has not eclipsed 100 passing yards in any of his three pro starts and has a 0-3 TD-INT ratio on 61 pass attempts. It will be interesting if the Titans turn back to Willis or go with Dobbs (17 career attempts) against the Jaguars, when they reconvene for relevant football, next week.

AFC Injuries Update: Titans, Paye, Edmunds, Poyer

Injuries continue to bite the Titans on the defensive side of the ball. This week, the team will play without three starters as head coach Mike Vrabel has ruled out safety Amani Hooker, edge rusher Bud Dupree, and linebacker Zach Cunningham, according to Turron Davenport of ESPN.

The Titans already have six players on injured reserve from the defense alone, as well as five more from the offense. Vrabel also announced that the team will sit linebackers Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Joseph Jones, as well. This all in addition to the recent loss of rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks to IR.

Tennessee has elevated practice squad linebacker Joe Schobert and wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick to make up for the loss of Cunningham and Burks, respectively. Dupree and Hooker’s absences will likely mean more playing time for second-year linebacker Rashad Weaver and backup safeties Joshua Kalu and Ugo Amadi. Amadi has some starting experience from his time with the Seahawks.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the AFC, starting with a division rival of the Titans:

Titans To Be Without Taylor Lewan, Bud Dupree In Week 3

As the Titans prepare for a matchup between 0-2 teams coming off playoff appearances, their Raiders tilt will not include Taylor Lewan or Bud Dupree. Tennessee ruled out both starters for Week 3.

Lewan’s absence is not especially surprising, but it certainly will sting a Titans offense that already moved on from two 2021 O-line starters — including veteran guard Rodger Saffold — this offseason. Lewan went down with a knee injury on the first play of Monday night’s loss to the Bills. Mike Vrabel said this week Dupree’s injury was not expected to keep him out in the long term, but the veteran pass rusher will miss at least one game.

The Lewan injury concerns a bit more due to it being the same knee on which he underwent surgery in 2020. Lewan missed 11 games in 2020 because of an ACL tear on his right knee. He returned for Week 1 of the 2021 season and played 13 games, but the 31-year-old blocker’s status may be up in the air for the near future.

While Vrabel offered a timetable for Dupree, he did not answer a question regarding Lewan’s timeline Friday. Lewan remains on Tennessee’s 53-man roster. The three-time Pro Bowl left tackle’s $16MM-per-year deal runs through 2023. Dennis Daley, whom the Titans acquired from the Panthers just before their roster cutdown to 53, is set to start at left tackle. Daley replaced Lewan on Monday and spent much of his 2019 rookie season as the Panthers’ blindside starter.

On its own, Dupree’s hip injury would not concern quite as much. But the Titans are without Harold Landry (ACL) for the season. Dupree, who joined Lewan in suffering an ACL tear in 2020, also battled back to start in Week 1 last year. But the ex-Steelers first-rounder missed six games in 2021 as well. The $16.5MM-per-year pass rusher will miss more time now.

Tennessee will also be without auxiliary pass rusher Ola Adeniyi, who started in Week 1 and came off the bench against the Bills. Despite their mounting injury issues at edge rusher, the Titans opted not to promote Takkarist McKinley from their practice squad this week. That led to the Rams poaching him.

AFC South Notes: Colts, Dupree, Texans

Shaquille Leonard undergoing back surgery midway through the offseason seemed to put his early-season availability in question. Although the Colts‘ mid-June expectation was for Leonard to be back near the start of training camp, he remains on the team’s active/PUP list. Leonard should be expected to come off that list soon, as not doing so would mean four missed games, but Frank Reich does not expect his top linebacker to be 100% when he returns.

I think when he gets cleared, he’s not going to be 100% and he’s going to have to work his way back into it,” Reich said, via ESPN.com’s Stephen Holder (on Twitter). “… He’s going to have to figure out how to play feeling the way he feels — not feeling 100%, feeling like maybe this isn’t all the way back but I still gotta figure out how to play winning football.”

The nerve issue for which Leonard underwent surgery affected him in 2021, leading to calf and ankle problems. Leonard still earned his third first-team All-Pro honor — during a season in which he intercepted four passes and led the NFL with eight forced fumbles — but the prospect of another season being impacted by the injury is somewhat concerning for the fifth-year star.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Bud Dupree pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with a January incident at a Walgreens, TMZ reports. The Titans outside linebacker turned himself in on a assault-fear of bodily injury charge in February. Police said Dupree grabbed a 20-year-old Walgreens employee, attempted to take his phone and fled the scene. The employee allegedly heckled Dupree and threatened to spit on the women accompanying the veteran pass rusher, according to TMZ. Dupree, who is set for his second Titans season, faces a potential suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
  • Dennis Kelly joined Leonard in undergoing a summer surgery. The veteran Colts tackle recently had a procedure done on one of his knees, Mike Chappell of CBS4 tweets. Kelly is competing for a swing job in Indianapolis, which is making another transition at left tackle. Matt Pryor and third-round rookie Bernhard Raimann are vying to be the team’s blindside starter. Kelly, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.27MM, has made 51 career starts. The 11th-year vet’s $75K guarantee obviously does not guarantee him a roster spot, and this surgery keeping him out of action for a stretch will not help his cause.
  • The Texans added Jarrod James to their coaching staff as an offensive assistant, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. James interned with the Chiefs, Vikings and Ravens in the late 2010s and had been working as Michigan State’s assistant offensive line coach this year.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Chiefs, Dupree, Weddle

First-round draft pick Alex Leatherwood had an up-and-down rookie season in Las Vegas. After struggling a bit at right tackle, Leatherwood was moved to guard to fill in after injuries to starters Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the Raiders’ former staff intended to move Leatherwood back to his drafted position next season.

The decision is now out of their hands and in the hands of new offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo. With Kolton Miller set at left tackle and Andre James filling in admirably this season with the loss of center Rodney Hudson in a trade to the Cardinals last year, the Raiders have three offensive line spots with which to play around. Bricillo’s placement of Leatherwood will likely depend on how they choose to address those open positions.

Here are a few more notes from around the AFC, starting with another note from the West:

Titans’ Bud Dupree Charged With Misdemeanor

Titans edge rusher Bud Dupree has been charged with misdemeanor assault, per an announcement from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. According to the report, Dupree was arrested following an altercation with a 20-year-old Walgreens employee.

[RELATED: Latest On Titans’ Henry]

Dupree, per the MNPD, got into a verbal spat with the Walgreens worker, left, and reentered the store with others. At that point, things got physical, resulting in an “assault-fear of bodily injury” charge for the outside linebacker.

Dupree, 28, is scheduled report for booking in three weeks. Meanwhile, the Titans are busy preparing for the Texans on Sunday with an opportunity to secure a first-round bye.

Dupree just came off of IR this past weekend after missing the last three games with an abdominal injury. So far, he has seven stops and one sack through seven games. Of course, he’s been a much more disruptive force in the past, including 2019 and 2020 when he tallied 19.5 sacks in total.

There’s no word yet from the league, but Dupree could be subject to discipline, pending investigations from the police and the NFL.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans