Steelers Sign Ex-Bills, Pitt Panthers Cornerback

Lafayette Pitts

Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images Lafayette Pitts prior to a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on August 08, 2019.

On Friday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the signing of cornerback Lafayette Pitts, 28, who has a fair bit of game experience with three different teams, but hasn’t appeared in an NFL contest since 2018.

In effect, Pitts takes the place of cornerback DeMarkus Acy, who tore his ACL this past Tuesday, making the announcement via his Twitter account.

Pitts Started 51 Games for the Panthers

Lafayette Pitts entered the NFL in 2016, signing with the Miami Dolphins as a rookie undrafted free agent after a Panthers career in which he appeared in 52 games (51 starts) and became a team captain as a fifth-year senior. During his college career, he was responsible for 152 total tackles (118 solo), with four interceptions, 29 passes defensed, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a sack.

He went on to play in eight games for the Dolphins as a rookie, but was waived the following summer, which allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars to claim him on waivers. He played in six games for the Jags before he was waived again. This time the Buffalo Bills claimed him and he has spent most of the time since either on Buffalo’s active roster or its practice squad.

All told, Pitts appeared in 26 games for the Bills, mostly on special teams. According to Pro Football Reference, he has been a part of 447 career special teams snaps, but only 83 defensive snaps. He has been credited with 21 career tackles, 17 of those being of the solo variety.

He has yet to intercept a pass in the NFL, at least not in the regular season.

Bud Dupree Practices With the Titans

Meanwhile, on Friday the Tennessee Titans took former Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, having started his first training camp on the PUP list before also being added to the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list.

He went on to participate in his first training camp practice with his new team.

“Everybody said: Welcome back,” Dupree told later in the day. “(My teammates are) excited, just like I am excited. I haven’t played football since December, so it is exciting for me just to be able to do the things I am doing right now. It is fun. I love this game, and I am excited to be on the Titans.”

Dupree is charged with helping to revitalize a feeble Titans pass rush that produced just 19 sacks in 2020, with three of those coming in the team’s regular season finale against the Houston Texans. That helps explain why Tennessee was willing to give Dupree $82.5 million over five years. But first he will have to fully overcome the torn ACL he suffered last December during a game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Knee issues aside, some NFL analysts believe Dupree may struggle to provide $16.5 million per year in value to the Titans. In March, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus called Dupree the most overrated unrestricted free agent at his position.

“Dupree is the classic buyer-beware candidate at the edge position,” wrote Monson. “The problem is that he has played in an environment that gives him a lot of layups in terms of pass rushing,” he continued, making reference to what PFF regards as the No. 1 ranked defensive line unit in the NFL. “Last season, 60.5% of Dupree’s total pressures were either unblocked, cleanup or pursuit plays, which are more circumstantial than they are evidence of plus play…. Dupree can take advantage of a beneficial situation as a complementary pass-rusher, but there isn’t much evidence that he can manufacture his own elite-level production,” concluded Monson.

Manufacturing his own production is exactly what he is going to need to do in Tennessee, at least until the Titans are able to add other formidable pass rushers to complement him.

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