Despite tearing his ACL late in 2020, Bud Dupree told ESPN he fully expects to be ready for training camp this summer. Here’s what he told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Brooke Pryor.
“Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who tore his ACL on Dec. 2 against the Baltimore Ravens, told ESPN he plans to be a full participant in an NFL training camp based on positive feedback from his doctors.”
Last month, Dupree shared on social media video of his aggressive rehab, looking to be on track to meet his prediction of being camp-ready.
— Steelers Depot 🎄 (@Steelersdepot) February 8, 2021
Dupree is looking to maintain the market value he’s built the last two seasons with his stellar, breakout play. It began in 2019 with him turning the corner and notching a career-high 11.5 sacks. He was one pace to match or exceed that number in 2020 before his injury against the Baltimore Ravens, finishing the year with eight across 11 games. He and Devin Bush, also coming off a torn ACL, have been rehabbing together at the team facility.
According to the ESPN report, the Steelers would like to re-sign Dupree but their cap-strapped financial situation likely prevents them from doing so. Fowler writes “the expectation is they will at least stay involved with Dupree as free agency approaches” but the other day, also said he would be “pretty shocked” if the team ultimately re-signed him. Teams like the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans could have interest in signing Dupree.
Should he not lose much market value due to the injury, he’ll command a contract somewhere in the $17-20 million average yearly range in free agency. That’s a number the Steelers almost certainly won’t be able to meet. If he signs elsewhere, Pittsburgh will turn to 2020 third round pick Alex Highsmith to replace him at ROLB. Highsmith filled in admirably for Dupree this past season, steadily improving as the season went along. But the team has little depth behind him and TJ Watt and they’re likely to either sign a lower-level veteran or draft an EDGE rusher this April.
Dupree signing a mega-contract elsewhere would likely net Pittsburgh a third-round comp pick for the 2022 NFL Draft.