“NFL News: Lions Urged to Pursue Former $82.5 Million Edge Rusher”

The Detroit Lions will enter the 2024 season as serious Super Bowl contenders for the first time in many, many years. But that doesn’t mean the Lions couldn’t use another piece or two to complete their roster. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox argued that piece could be veteran edge rusher Bud Dupree.

Dan Campbell reveals he may become more 'involved' with offense – The  Oakland Press

On May 6, Knox named Dupree the one veteran free agent that could help the Lions in 2024.

“Detroit’s offseason has seen the additions of veterans D.J. Reader, and Carlton Davis,” Knox wrote. “The Lions further addressed their 27th-ranked pass defense by adding rookie cornerbacks Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. in the draft.

“With an improved secondary, the Lions will carry few question marks into offseason workouts. However, they could still use another piece in the pass-rushing rotation.”

Dupree has never made the Pro Bowl, but he recorded a pair of seasons with 8 sacks or more in his final two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers during 2019 and 2020. He then signed a 5-year, $82.5 million contract to join the Tennessee Titans.

Dupree didn’t finish that contract, struggling in two seasons with the Titans. But he bounced back on a 1-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons last year.

In 2023, he had 6.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 8 quarterback hits in 16 games with Atlanta.

How Bud Dupree Could Fit With the Lions

Titans release OLB Bud Dupree after 7 sacks in 2 years

Other than signing veteran defensive end Marcus Davenport, the Lions haven’t added any edge rushers this offseason. That could be a sign that they are confident in linebacker James Houston returning from injury during 2024.

Houston came on very strongly as a rookie, posting 8 sacks with 11 quarterback hits in just 7 games during 2022. But he only played two games before suffering a broken leg last season. Houston didn’t return until the NFC championship game.

There’s really no such thing as too many edge rushers. So, even with Houston back, the Lions could use another edge defender. Dupree should be appealing because he’s a veteran who could contribute, but he’s also not a big enough name to take any playing time away from Houston or another young edge rusher the Lions wish to develop.

Dupree entered the NFL as a first-round pick for the Steelers in 2015. He recorded just 8.5 sacks in his first 23 contests, but he then slowly began to improve.

He registered 6 sacks during his third season in 2017, and he had 5.5 sacks with 13 quarterback hits in 2018. Then he broke out with his first double-digit sack season with 11.5 during 2019.

Dupree suffered a torn ACL in his final game with the Steelers in 2020. While that didn’t stop the Titans from offering him a big contract, he didn’t live up to expectations. In addition to recovering from the knee injury during 2021, he missed time because of an abdominal ailment.

The Titans released Dupree on March 16, 2023. But healthy with the Falcons, he became a key pass rushing contributor again in Atlanta last season.

Detroit Looking for Second Elite Edge Rusher

Some mock drafts this offseason predicted the Lions to target an edge rusher in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. But not only did that not happen, Detroit didn’t select an edge rusher at all.

So, the search for a young rusher to pair with Aidan Hutchinson will continue.

Detroit Lions' Aidan Hutchinson nominated for Rookie of the Week - Pride Of  Detroit

As previously stated, the Lions could still be hoping Houston is the long-term solution to complement Hutchinson. But Houston isn’t a sure-thing after missing most of 2023.

Dupree could be a stop-gap fix for at least this fall. He may even get close to his prime production years playing alongside a superstar.

“[Dupree’s] best season came in 2019, when he logged 11.5 sacks while playing opposite star sack artist T.J. Watt,” Knox wrote. “By partnering with Hutchinson, Dupree would again benefit from having an elite pass-rushing complement.”

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