The Atlanta Falcons aren’t waiting until the NFL draft to add more pieces to their defense.
ABC Sports Director Zach Klein of WSB TV reported on April 14 that the Falcons have signed outside linebacker Bud Dupree to a one-year contract.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Dupree at No. 22 overall in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. He spent six seasons with the Steelers before departing for the Tennessee Titans in free agency.
Dupree reached double digits in sacks for the first time in 2019 and had 8 sacks through 11 contests to begin 2020. But Dupree suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 12, missing the end of the season.
Injuries continued to arise for Dupree in Tennessee. He landed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Titans despite the major knee injury to end 2020. But he missed 12 games over the past two seasons with Tennessee.
In 22 contests, Dupree recorded 7 sacks, 17 quarterback hits and 8 tackles for loss. He also had 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defense and 2 fumble recoveries.
Over six seasons with the Steelers, Dupree had 39.5 sacks, 65 quarterback hits, 54 tackles for loss, 8 forced fumbles and 11 pass defenses.
Dupree turned 30 in February. The Falcons shouldn’t count on him returning to his 2019 form, but he’s another reclamation project for Atlanta’s defense.
The financial details of the contract have yet to be disclosed, but it’s likely a team-friendly deal. If healthy, Dupree could be a great help to a defense that desperately needs a pass rush.
The Falcons have recorded 39 sacks over the past two seasons. That’s by far the fewest in the league during that stretch (Las Vegas had the second fewest with 62 sacks).
Atlanta began this week trading for a reclamation project in cornerback Jeff Okudah. The Detroit Lions drafted Okudah at No. 3 overall in the 2020 NFL draft, but less than three years later, Detroit not only made him available in a trade, they agreed to pay a portion of Okudah’s contract for him to play elsewhere.
If Dupree and Okudah don’t play well in 2023, the Falcons will look for long-term answers for their defense elsewhere next offseason. But each player has the potential to be key additions to the Atlanta defense.