Houston Texans: Bud Dupree needs to be on free agent radar

outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
Bud Dupree, Houston Texans
outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

The linebackers of the Houston Texans combined for 15 sacks during the 2020 season, and free agent linebacker Bud Dupree in 11 games last season had eight sacks before he tore his ACL.

The good news for Dupree is he is recovering well since his injury happened, and the better news is he would be a big upgrade over any outside linebacker currently on the roster of the Texans if healthy.

The 27-year-old Dupree has played six seasons — all with the Pittsburgh Steelers — since being a first-round pick out of of Kentucky. In his time with the Steelers, the pass rusher has collected 39.5 sacks and has also forced eight fumbles in that span, with six of them being in the past two seasons.

Last season, the Houston Texans linebackers had a total of five forced fumbles, while Dupree with Pittsburgh in 11 games had two forced fumbles to go with his 23 solo tackles.

Being that Dupree is coming off an ACL injury, the jury will still be out on how good he can and will be upon his return to the field, but if he returns to the field and is the player he was before his ACL tear, he’ll be worth the contract he’ll receive.

According to Sportac.com, the market value for a Bud Dupree contract this free agency period is four years for $78.2 million, an average of $18.2 million per season. Currently, the highest paid outside linebacker on the Texans is 30-year-old Whitney Mercilus, who is being paid for a four-year, $54 million contract, an average salary of $13.5 million.

Mercilus played in 13 games, where he had 11 solo tackles with four sacks and one pass defensed in 2020. The previous season (2019), Mercilus finished with 7.5 sacks, two passes defensed, one interception and 33 solo tackles in 16 games played.

Houston Texans Free Agency: Will Dupree play in the AFC South in 2021?

One place where Bud Dupree is being projected to play for 2021 is in Nashville for the Tennessee Titans, who are the reigning AFC South champions. They also need help with their defense, as they had issues with their pass rush as well with just 16 sacks as a defense this past season.

Two positives for the Houston Texans if they could and would even consider to sign Dupree in free agency are he would get to play in Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense, and they would keep him away from playing for a division rival.

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Granted, it is a long shot for the Houston Texans to make a move this big when free agency arrives. With everything that has happened with the front office, coaching staff and potential roster moves, nothing is for certain when it comes to the decision-making of this team and the folks running the franchise.