In less than an hour, the Tennessee Titans defense – specifically their pass rush – looked dramatically better than it did last season. At least on paper.
The Titans, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, have agreed to terms with linebacker Bud Dupree, a player who reportedly drew interest from numerous teams. SI.com ranked him No. 15 on its list of this year’s top 200 NFL free agents.
The former Pittsburgh Steeler standout will earn an average of $16.5 million per season. The length of the contract has not yet been disclosed, but Rapoport said it was a multi-year deal.
This move comes shortly after the Titans signed former Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Denico Autry.
A first-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, Dupree spent his first six NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The athletic linebacker, who predominantly plays outside, was putting together one of his most productive seasons in 2020 before he tore his ACL in Week 12. At the time of his injury, the 28-year-old had eight sacks, eight tackles for a loss of yards and 31 tackles at the time of his injury.
His best season to date was 2019. Dupree set career-highs in sacks (11 1/2), tackles (68) and tackles for a loss (16). He also recovered two fumbles and defended three passes while playing and starting all 16 games.
For his career, Dupree has started 66 of a possible 81 games. He has 39 1/2 sacks, including at least for in each of his six seasons, 231 tackles and 54 tackles for a loss.
Dupree is a pure pass rusher who will be a much-needed boost to a Titans pass rush that had the third-fewest sacks in the league (19) this past season. The only thing in question will be his recovery process from the ACL injury and how far along he will be by the time workouts begin later this spring.
So far in free agency, it’s become clear how urgent the Titans are to improve on the defensive side of the football, especially in the pass rush, which was their most glaring weakness in 2020. Their first two moves certainly validate that much.