Steelers Rumored to Exercise Bud Dupree's 5th-Year Contract Option

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 10:  Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 10, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers will keep linebacker Bud Dupree through at least the 2019 season after they reportedly picked up his fifth-year option Monday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the news.  

Pittsburgh selected Dupree in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft out of Kentucky, and he has developed into a solid part of its pass-rushing rotation. According to Spotrac, his rookie contract was worth four years and more than $9 million running from 2015 through 2018 with this fifth-year option available for the 2019 campaign.

Dupree dealt with injuries and played just seven games in 2016 after he showed flashes as a rookie with four sacks but appeared to turn the corner when he was healthy again in 2017.

He tallied career-high totals with 40 combined tackles, six sacks and a fumble recovery and helped the Steelers win the AFC North in his third year.

While he has always been a steady pass-rusher considering he has at least four sacks in each of his first three years but never more than the six in 2017, Pittsburgh was surely encouraged by his progress and ability to stay on the field this past season.

That statistical improvement suggests the potential for a breakout showing is still there, especially considering the pace of 4.5 sacks in seven games he posted in 2016 translates to a monster season if he can replicate it for 16 games. There is also the question of linebacker depth with Ryan Shazier's long-term status still something of a question mark after suffering a serious spinal injury. 

Dupree will be just 26 years old throughout the 2019 season, and the Steelers are banking on his continued progression with this move.

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