Titans Claim Ex-Steelers Edge; Tennessee’s OLB Room ‘Literally Just Pittsburgh Guys’

Derrek Tuszka Steelers

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images Derrek Tuszka of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles Derrick Gore of the Kansas City Chiefs during a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 16, 2022.

On Thursday September 1 the Pittsburgh Steelers waived outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka, electing to replace him with Jamir Jones, who himself had been waived by the Jaguars on Wednesday, just hours after he made Jacksonville’s 53-man roster. On Friday, Tuszka found a new NFL home, having been claimed on waivers by the Tennessee Titans.

It’s easy to understand why Tennessee claimed Tuszka, as Titans Pro Bowl outside linebacker Harold Landry III tore his ACL in practice earlier this week and has been placed on injured reserve.

Notably, Tennessee’s Top 3 outside linebackers are former Steelers, including 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree, who signed with the Titans in March 2021 — inking a contract that pays him $82.5 million over five years. Dupree’s first season with the Titans was underwhelming, as he started training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list while rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered in December 2020 against the Baltimore Ravens. He went on to appear in seven of a possible 10 games (with two starts) before he landed on injured reserve with an abdominal injury, which he suffered on the first snap of his team’s November 14 game against the Saints. He then missed three more games before returning to face his old team.

Dupree finished the 2021 season having played in 11 games (six starts) and recorded 17 tackles (13 solo), including two tackles for loss, three sacks, eight quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

Ola Adeniyi Followed Bud Dupree to Tennessee

That was less production than the Titans got from Ola Adeniyi, the former Steelers linebacker who followed Dupree to Nashville and had roughly the same impact as Dupree, despite his comparatively miniscule $920,000 salary. In 16 games, Adeniyi recorded 21 tackles (14 solo), including two tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Reference. Moreover, he was very nearly the hero in Tennessee’s overtime win over Seattle last September.

That helps explain why it was described as a “no-brainer move” for the Titans to re-sign Adeniyi, who is immediately behind Landry on Tennessee’s depth chart and possibly steps into a starting role.

Meanwhile, the pressure will be on Dupree, 29, to live up to his contract and provide the kind of pass rush that Landry provided last season, when he had 12 sacks and made the Pro Bowl.

Derrek Tuszka is Former MVFC Player of the Year

As for Tuszka, 26, he comes to the Titans with 24 games of NFL experience, having recorded a total of 24 tackles (13 solo), with two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and one forced fumble. The former Broncos seventh-round pick won MVFC Player of the Year in 2019 at North Dakota State before he was drafted No. 254 overall in 2020.

In addition to Dupree, Adeniyi and Tuszka, there is yet another Pittsburgh connection amongst Tennessee’s linebacker group, as Dupree’s backup is Rashad Weaver, a former fourth-round pick (2021) who played his college football for the Pitt Panthers. That connection prompted Steelers and Pitt beat writer Nick Farabaugh to quip: “…The whole Titans OLB room is literally just Pittsburgh guys.”

The only other outside linebacker currently employed by the Titans is David Anenih, an undrafted free agent out of Houston who was added to Tennessee’s practice squad on August 31.

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