The Tennessee Titans are expected to release former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree, this according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. As noted by Rapoport, Dupree was set to earn a $17 million salary in 2023, prohibitively expensive for a player who has missed 12 games (and big parts of several others) during the two seasons he spent in Tennessee.
It’s not yet clear whether the Titans plan to cut Dupree with a pre-June 1 designation or a post-June 1 designation.
“Parting ways with Dupree, who signed a huge five-year, $82.5 million deal in 2021, will save Tennessee $9.35 million against the salary cap, while also incurring a dead-cap hit of $10.85 million if it’s pre-June 1,” according to Mike Moraitis of USA Today’s TitansWire. “However, Tennessee also has the option to cut him with a post-June 1 tag, which would save $15.75 million and decrease the dead-cap hit to $4.45 million.”
Bud Dupree: ‘Damn I Found Out on Twitter’
Regardless, it appears the news broke before the Titans had a chance to communicate the news to the former Steelers 1st-round pick.
Nick Suss, Titans beat writer for the Tennessean, captured the following screenshot from Dupree’s Twitter account before his tweet was apparently deleted.
The news cannot have been a surprise, though, as Dupree missed more games than he had sacks during his time with the Titans. In 22 games played, Dupree recorded just 35 total tackles, with seven sacks, 17 quarterback hits and one pass defensed, plus two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. Notably, Titans fans had become frustrated with Dupree’s inability to remain healthy.
Bud Dupree to Return to Pittsburgh?
Dupree’s release will no doubt lead to speculation about a possible return to the Steelers.
For one, Pittsburgh remains in need of better outside linebacker depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Right now, the team’s top reserve at the position is Jamir Jones, an exclusive rights free agent who was recently re-signed for 2023. The other edge rushers on the offseason roster are 2021 Steelers 6th-round pick Quincy Roche and former Chargers 6th-round pick Emeke Egbule.
So, provided the cost is reasonable, most Steelers fans would likely want Dupree back, as he would now be a complementary piece, as opposed to being counted on as a front-line starter. He would also benefit from the presence of other top defenders, like T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward, much like he did when he played for Pittsburgh from 2015-2020.
As noted by Pittsburgh media personality Josh Rowntree, Dupree was significantly more impactful during his time with the Steelers.
In fact, Dupree finished his Titans career on injured reserve, missing the team’s last two regular-season games with a chest injury. Earlier in 2022, he missed four games with hip injuries, which first became an issue during Tennessee’s Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
In 2021, Dupree started training camp on Tennessee’s Physically Unable to Perform list, as he attempted to recover from the torn ACL he suffered near the end of his final season in Pittsburgh. In Nov. 2021, the Titans placed Dupree on injured reserve with an abdominal injury suffered on the first snap of a game against the New Orleans Saints.