Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts will be major players in the offseason. They’re armed with cap space and need to improve both sides of the ball. Now, after weeks of speculating, everything will finally come into focus over the next week.
The Colts will also be beneficiaries of teams having to part ways with some of their players, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are starting to feel the effects of their financial situation. They’re going to have to let standout pass rusher Bud Dupree hit the open market.
Adam Schefter is reporting that Dupree, who has spent the last six seasons with the Steelers, has not been franchise tagged, which means he’ll likely become a free agent. With Alex Highsmith on the roster and TJ Watt as the main star, Pittsburgh likely feels comfortable moving on.
Dupree looked like a bust after a poor start to his NFL career, but he has since stepped on the accelerator, totaling 19.5 sacks in 27 games over the last two seasons. A Colts team in need of pass rush depth should get Dupree’s agent on the phone right now.
While DeForest Buckner is an elite defensive tackle, the potential losses of Justin Houston and Denico Autry could do a number on Indy’s defensive line. Dupree could solve that issue in two seconds, and Indy needs to outbid everyone else to make sure he ends up in blue and white.
How could Bud Dupree help the Colts?
Where Dupree and Houston are similar is the fact that both the former Chiefs star and the ex-Kentucky Wildcat can use their strength to disengage from blocks and stuff the run. However, Dupree didn’t face a ton of double-teams given the presence of TJ Watt on the other side.
Even with all of that, Dupree is a player on the rise. His production in the last two seasons puts him in very rarified air, and the ways in which Eberflus moves Darius Leonard around the box in tandem with the exotic pressure packages he can bring should allow Dupree to get plenty of one-on-one pass-rushing situations. And if the Colts bring back Houston and sign Dupree? Forget about it.
Dupree operated mostly as a stand-up rush linebacker in Pittsburgh, and Eberflus might ask him to put his hand in the dirt more and operate as a 5-tech defensive end. However, his performance over the last few seasons should give the Colts enough confidence in him to make the transition in their scheme.
The Colts are in a wide open division, and they need to get this defense some help by paying top dollar for the best pass rushers available. Dupree has plenty of great football left ahead of him, and could make an eight-figure deal look like a massive bargain, especially if he’s seamlessly integrated into the defense.
Dupree’s coming off a torn ACL, so the Colts might be able to get a bit of a discount here, especially if they pitch the idea of playing on one of the most stacked defenses in the league when they finish rounding off the roster.