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Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly interested in bringing back former defensive star on one condition

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been relatively quiet in NFL free agency, operating tight against the 2023 salary cap. While a few small additions have been made, there reportedly could be room for one familiar player on the roster.

Pittsburgh missed the playoffs in 2022, marking the third time in five years it failed to reach the postseason. Furthermore, the Steelers haven’t won a playoff game since the 2016 playoffs. As the organization continues to retool its depth chart around an influx of young talent, a few veteran additions have been made for the 2023 season.

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The Steelers signed veteran linebacker Elandon Roberts to a two-year contract, bringing him in to replace Myles Jack. They also added former Washington Commanders linebacker Cole Holcomb to their front seven, in addition to the signing of cornerback Patrick Peterson.

While Pittsburgh is pleased with its top edge rushers for next season – Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt – there is reportedly a chance the franchise brings back one of its most recognized defenders from previous playoff runs.

According to Josina Anderson o CBS Sports, the Steelers are interested in bringing back edge rusher Bud Dupree as long as he checks out medically. While he is expected to evaluate his options, a return to Pittsburgh is possible.

  • Bud Dupree stats (Pittsburgh Steelers): 65 QB hits, 54 TFLs, 39.5 sacks in 81 games
  • Bud Dupree stats (Tennessee Titans): 17 QB hits, 8 TFLs, 7 sacks in 22 games

Dupree, age 30, left the Steelers during the 2021 NFL offseason for a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans. While Pittsburgh liked his on-field production, the organization was confident Highsmith could fill the void as the team’s second-best edge rusher.

The 6-foot-4 pass rusher never replicated the success he had in Pittsburgh with the Titans. Dupreee started just six games in 2021, playing in 11, then appeared in only 11 games last season. After two injury-riddled performances, Tennessee parted ways with its former prized free-agent signing.

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Dupree should field a fair amount of interest, given the number of teams in the market for situational pass rushers. However, his familiarity with the Steelers’ organization and his success in that scheme could push him to return as long as he checks out medically. If he returns, it would add further depth to a defense that is expected to improve next season.