Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is filing a grievance over the franchise tag, requesting that he be considered a defensive end as opposed to an outside linebacker. As a franchised outside linebacker the only thing standing between Bud Dupree and 15.8 million dollar payday is COVID-19.
- But apparently, 15.8 million dollars for a year’s work just isn’t enough.
Per Joe Rutter’s reporting at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the 2020 franchise tender for a defensive end is $17.788 million or 1.988 million more.
As Rutter reports, Shaq Barrett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has filed a similar grievance.
Evolution of Edge Rusher in the Age of the Salary Cap
As this column’s snarky headline suggests, this author doesn’t start with great sympathy for Bud Dupree. For the vast majority Terrible Towel twirlers, 1.988 million dollars represents a lifetime of income, and then some. In that light, it is easy to write this off as another example of a greedy, out of touch pro athlete.
- But would that be fair to Bud Dupree? Perhaps not.
Football players have short careers, and after deducting taxes and agent commissions, the difference between two franchise tags could amount to nearly 1 million dollars more in Dupree’s pocket. If you could give yourself a shot at getting an extra million dollars by filling out paperwork would you do it?
- Whether Bud Dupree deserves to be considered a defensive end is another question.
Two generations ago, the idea that Jack Ham, Andy Russell or Robin Cole arguing that they play the same position as L.C. Greenwood or Dwight White would be laughable. Neither would anyone confuse the responsibilities of Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter with those of Ray Seals or Aaron Smith in Dick LeBeau’s defenses of the ‘90’s or the ‘00’s.
- But the game has changed.
Cam Heyward entered the league as a defensive end in the Steelers system. A few seasons ago, his position was changed to that of tackle. The Steelers had Javon Hargrave budding into a very good (if not great) nose tackle and let him go because they only use their “base” defense.
- Bud Dupree might not start snaps with his hand in the dirt, but his primary responsibility is to rush the passer.
And in 2019 Bud Dupree did that to great effect, registering 11.5 sacks, forcing 4 fumbles and recovering 2. For the first time since the Steelers drafted him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Bud Dupree made difference making plays as an “Edge Rusher.”
- Its the “Edge Rusher” status which clouds the situation, and that’s where Dupree’s grievance gets a tad bit ironic.
Bud Dupree took a long time to get to this level, and to counter the “Bud the Bust” story line, leaks about Dupree’s pass coverage prowess found their way into the press. This scribe always assumed that they came from Steelers coaches because the leaks sounded awfully similar to the ones that praised Jarvis Jones’ ability against the run.
- But Bud Dupree’s agent could have also been the source of the leaks.
If it was Dupree’s agent, and this is most certainly an IF, then his agent has made a pretty deft pivot from extolling his client’s ability to cover passes downfield to arguing that he should now be considered a defensive end.
But I guess that’s why Bud pays him the big bucks.