The 2020 NFL offseason has begun and teams are already making key decisions. Here are the top linebackers that could hit the open market on March 18.
There’s a lot to be said about defense and what a good one can do in terms of a championship. This past season, the Kansas City Chiefs got off to rough start with a revamped unit. But Steve Spagnuolo’s group found itself and that side of the ball had a big impact in the Super Bowl LIV win over the 49ers.
So here’s a look at the top linebackers who could hit the free-agent market come March 18. There’s something for everyone on this list, from pass-rushers to versatile performers who excel regardless of the scheme.
By the way, you can’t include everyone when it’s a Top 5, as is the case here. And if you’re wondering where high-volume tacklers such as Cleveland’s Joe Schobert and Green Bay’s Blake Martinez fit on this list, they just missed making the cut for various reasons.
5. OLB Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers)
There’s always hesitation when a player move enjoys four so-so years in the league, enters the final year of his contract and then explodes with a career-best campaign. Those are the questions surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers’ outside linebacker Bud Dupree. The 2015 first-round pick from the University of Kentucky was in the final year of his rookie contract and came up big with the possibility of free agency on the horizon.
In 2019, he was a 16-game starter for the first time in his career. He finished with 68 stops, 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, to go along with a pair of fumble recoveries. In his first four NFL campaigns, there were 54 regular-season contests, 20 quarterback traps and just two forced fumbles.
Will the Steelers franchise Dupree, re-sign him prior to March 18 or let him test the market before making a decision? He and T.J. Watt do make for a potent set of bookends.