NFL rumors: Former Steelers star could be cut candidate after signing lucrative deal


Bud Dupree #48 of the Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Bud Dupree #48 of the Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

This part of the offseason is starting to become known as “The Tennessee Titans’ fire sale,” and one former Steelers defender, Bud Dupree, could unfortunately be a cap casualty. 

Bud Dupree, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 22 overall pick back in 2015, may have outpriced his stay on the Tennessee Titans despite signing a huge contract two years ago.

After the Steelers made T.J. Watt the league’s highest-paid defensive player in 2021, Dupree decided to join the Titans on a five-year, $82.5 million deal that ranked as one of the most lucrative free agent deals that offseason.

Fast forward to 2023, and the Titans are seriously considering Dupree as a cut candidate in the team’s attempts to get out of salary cap hell.

So far, Tennessee has already released left tackle Taylor Lewan, wideout Robert Woods, and kicker Randy Bullock to free up nearly $30 million in cap space.

The Titans will likely continue sawing off dead weight by choosing to cut or trade quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and outside linebacker Bud Dupree also could be labeled as expendable goods given his spotty performances in the last two years.

Could the Steelers bring back Bud Dupree?

The once-highly heralded Steelers pass-rusher signed on to the Titans with the hopes of revolutionizing Tennessee’s defensive unit, but Dupree’s injury history and lack of consistent production made him a major disappointment.

Never quite the same after tearing his ACL in 2020, Dupree has only played 22 games for the Titans in the past two seasons, recording just seven total sacks.

His contract structure makes it tricky for the Titans to release him right now, but the team most likely will sometime this offseason as Tennessee already has a star-studded defensive cast of Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Harold Landry III, and others who are playing on much more team-friendly deals.

Dupree is due $17 million in base salary this season; the Titans would save roughly $9 million if they release him before June 1 and roughly $16 million if they release him after June 1.

#Titans don’t have to wait until June 1 for Bud Dupree to be a June 1 cut.

Can designate him as such before then. Did so with Julio Jones on March 16, 2022

Pre 6/1: Save $9.35 M, eat $10.85 M

Post 6/1: Save $15.75, eat $4.45 M 2023, $6.4 M 2024

Don’t save til June@spotrac

— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) February 22, 2023

There’s a small snag to waiting until after June 1 to cut him: any cap space the Titans clear from designating Dupree as a post-June 1 cut candidate would not become available until that date in June.

So even though Tennessee would free up almost twice as much cap space by waiting, they may not be able to do much with it in June, when the NFL Draft has passed and most trades have already happened.

Either way, Dupree’s time in Tennessee is probably coming to an end in 2023. Maybe the Steelers pick him back up in free agency?