Proposed Trade Sends Ex-Steelers LB Bud Dupree From Titans to Bears

Bud Dupree Titans

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Quarterback Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals is chased by outside linebacker Bud Dupree of the Tennessee Titans during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Nissan Stadium on January 22, 2022.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree had a disappointing first season with the Tennessee Titans, appearing in 11 games and recording just 17 tackles, with three sacks, eight quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Dupree’s performance was so underwhelming that fellow ex-Steelers linebacker Ola Adeniyi outperformed him in his first season in Tennessee, despite an $81.5 million difference in their respective price tags. Worse yet, Dupree’s game was so lacking that the league downgraded the 2022 compensatory pick it awarded the Steelers from a third-rounder to a fourth-rounder.

That said, it’s laughable that Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report is suggesting that the Titans should trade Dupree — and a 2023 second-round pick — for a 2023 fifth-round pick. Wharton likens his trade concept to the time when the Cleveland Browns absorbed quarterback Brock Osweiler’s contract in exchange for second- and sixth-round picks from the Texans. That March 2017 trade saved the Texans $16 million in cash and $10 million in cap space, as per Pro Football Focus (PFF), with the Browns also sending a fourth-round pick to the Texans.

But the Titans aren’t going to give up a potentially still impactful edge rusher — plus a premium draft pick — just to get out from under Dupree’s five-year, $82.5 million contract, especially now that the former first-round pick is ostensibly back to full health.

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Bud Dupree: My Knee Is ‘All the Way Back’

Dupree spoke to the media after Titans minicamp this past week and insisted that “his knee is all the way back,” a reference to the torn ACL he suffered in December 2020. He also said he’s more comfortable after a year with the Titans, and presumably no longer compromised by the abdominal injury that landed him on injured reserve in November 2021.

This isn’t to say that Dupree, 29, will ever live up to the expectations that come with a contract that included a $16 million signing bonus and calls for a $16 million (guaranteed) salary in 2022. The deal looked like an overpay at the time — with PFF calling Dupree the “classic buyer-beware candidate at the edge position” — but the Titans were desperate for pass rush help, having produced just 19 sacks in 2020, the third-lowest amount in the NFL.

The Titans can only hope Dupree, 29, recaptures some of the form he displayed with the Steelers in 2019, when he had a career-high 11.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hits in 16 games, by far his most impactful season since Pittsburgh selected him No. 22 overall out of Kentucky in the 2015 NFL Draft.

If he doesn’t, the Titans can consider moving on from him after the 2022 season. As noted by overthecap.com, his contract calls for salaries of $17 million in 2023, $16 million in 2024 and $15.5 million in 2025. But the only guaranteed money remaining on the deal is $1.25 million in 2023, so the Titans could trade or release him in 2023 and incur a relatively modest dead money cap charge of $4.45 million.


Ex-Steelers LB Ola Adeniyi Is Back With the Titans

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Dupree and fellow former Steelers linebacker Ola Adeniyi figure to remain together in Nashville for at least one more season. In March 2022, the Titans re-signed Adeniyi to another one-year contract, in what was described as a “no-brainer move.” He gets a modest raise, set to earn a salary of $1.035 million, having already received a signing bonus of $152,500, as per overthecap.com.

This as compared to the $920,000 salary ($1 million cap charge) Adeniyi earned in 2021, when he appeared in16 games and recorded 21 total tackles, including two tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits, as per Pro Football Reference. Adeniyi was also very nearly the hero in Tennessee’s OT win over Seattle in September of last year. Specifically, he sacked quarterback Russell Wilson for what appeared to be a walk-off safety, but the ball was inexplicably placed at the one yard line, keeping the Seahawks alive for a few more plays.

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