1. Bud Dupree
It still is probably too soon to bring this player up to Pittsburgh fans, but the Steelers let LB Bud Dupree walk after playing his final season under the franchise tag. Dupree was the No. 22 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and entered the 2021 offseason as one of the top premier pass rushers in free agency.
Dupree’s final game with Pittsburgh came on Dec. 2 in a 19-14 win over AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens. There wasn’t too much to be happy about, though, because Bud’s season ended with a torn ACL on a noncontact play. In the offseason, the Tennessee Titans signed Dupree to a five-year, $82.5 million deal.
It’s understandable that the Steelers couldn’t match the money that the Titans offered Dupree after rookie Alex Highsmith had an impressive 2020-21 campaign, but Bud played a vital role in shaping Pittsburgh’s defense into what it is today. Dupree and LB T.J. Watt were the perfect pass rush duo.
During Dupree’s breakout season in 2019, he posted 11.5 sacks, 68 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The Steelers currently have one of the top defenses in the league, but even without the injuries that are currently affecting the team, it sure would be nice to have No. 48 back.