AFC Notes: Bud Dupree, Bengals, Steelers

Bud Dupree

Steelers OLB Bud Dupree, unfortunately, tore his ACL at the beginning of December. Dupree was playing on the franchise tag and presumably looking at a big deal on the open market given Pittsburgh wouldn’t be able to retain him. But the injury introduced an element of uncertainty to his prospects of a new deal. Dupree said, however, that he’s recovering ahead of schedule and anticipates being ready for training camp with his new team.  

“I’m feeling great right now,” Dupree said on NFL Media’s ‘Good Morning Football.’ “I’m ahead of schedule in rehab. It’s a great thing as always, it’s a blessing. I’m on track. And I’m going to be ready for camp. It’s a blessing to take the small things from a big injury like there was, and just know that I’m still able to perform next season.”

We have Dupree listed in our Top 100 2021 NFL Free Agents list.


  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. says there’s an 80 percent chance the Bengals sign two starting-caliber offensive linemen in free agency. 
  • Dehner expects the Bengals to look hard at extending both DE Sam Hubbard and S Jessie Bates. However, he adds there’s a chance they wait on Bates given how reasonable the franchise tag numbers for safeties are. 
  • The Bengals are also likely to bolster their defensive line this offseason to try and get more pass rushers on board, especially in the draft, per Dehner. 
  • He also thinks running back is going to be a target on Day 3 of the draft to try and upgrade from Samaje Perine and Trayveon Williams.


  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly thinks Steelers OLB T.J. Watt will command a deal in the five-year, $125 million range, perhaps more, sometime this offseason. 
  • Kaboly also expects the Steelers to extend CB Steven Nelson, who’s still only 28, as a way to free up some cap space in 2021 given Nelson’s $14.2 million cap hit. Something like a two-year, $22 million deal is the potential range for Pittsburgh. 
  • Kaboly mentions Steelers LT Alejandro Villanueva is unlikely to be back and the veteran could retire to leverage his business degree unless another team comes calling with a major offer. 
  • Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster will sign elsewhere for around $16-$18 million a year, Kaboly predicts, while RB James Conner is looking at a deal in the $5-$6 million range on the open market. 
  • Other free agents like LB Avery Williamson, OL Matt Feiler and CB Mike Hilton are probably goners, according to Kaboly, while the Steelers have a good chance of being able to bring back OT Zach Banner due to his ACL tear. 
  • Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline says the Steelers and Dolphins have shown a lot of early interest in Alabama RB Najee Harris at the Senior Bowl.
  • The Steelers are interested in former Chargers OL coach James Campen for the same position with Pittsburgh. (Gerry Dulac)

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