Should the New York Giants pursue Bud Dupree in free agency?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones
Sep 14, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) hits the arm of New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) resulting in an interception during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are gearing up for an eventful offseason. Co-owner John Mara and general manager Dave Gettleman made the same promise at their postseason press conferences. They promised to upgrade the offense and add some playmakers. This will be the top priority for the Giants entering free agency and the draft.

While New York certainly needs to upgrade its offense, they should not neglect the defense altogether. There are weaknesses on the Giants’ otherwise strong defensive unit. One particular area of weakness is the Giants’ edge rusher position. New York put together a solid pass rush in 2020, but much of the pressure was generated through the interior. The Giants struggled to get consistent pressure off the edge.

In Week One, the Giants got a front-hand view of what a menacing edge presence can do to an offense. The Giants faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week One. Their defense consisted of numerous Pro Bowl talents, including two phenomenal edge rushers. TJ Watt was one of the best defenders in the NFL in 2020, but on the opposite side of him was Bud Dupree, another solid edge rusher.

While Bud Dupree might not be a Pro Bowl talent, he is a solid edge rusher that can make plays in a variety of ways. The Giants’ defense emphasizes versatility, making Bud Dupree a solid scheme fit that the Giants should consider pursuing in the 2021 free agency period.

Bud Dupree in free agency

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a very tricky salary cap situation. It seems unlikely that they will be able to afford to sign Bud Dupree to a contract extension. Dupree is set to hit the open market this offseason and all signs indicate he will be signing elsewhere.

The New York Giants could be a solid fit for Bud Dupree. New York has a clear need at edge rusher. Granted, the Giants are also in a tricky cap situation, but they are expected to make a number of signings to free cap space for free agency.

The Giants have to key players to re-sign. Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson are both free agents this offseason. If New York extends both of them, they will not have much space left to sign any other free agents. But if one of them walks in free agency, the Giants could redistribute that money to a new signee.

Dalvin Tomlinson is projected to get a contract worth around $10-12 million per year. Bud Dupree’s projected contract per Pro Football Focus is one year, $10 million. If the Giants do lose Dalvin Tomlinson, they could supplement the loss by signing Bud Dupree to a one-year prove-it deal on the edge.

Bud Dupree stats and highlights

Bud Dupree is a versatile edge rusher that could thrive in the New York Giants’ blitz-heavy defense. Dupree was a late bloomer. His career-high sack total in his first four seasons was only 6 sacks. But in his fifth season, Dupree finally had his breakout. Bud totaled 11.5 sacks in 2019 and followed it up with another solid 8.5 sack season in 2020.

Dupree did not finish the 2020 season, though, suffering a season-ending injury after starting 11 games. His 8.5 sacks in only 11 games prove that he has blossomed into an impressive pass-rusher, but the injury raises red flags. Could this injury derail Dupree’s development and cause him to regress to the less-productive pass-rusher he was from 2015 to 2018? Or will he be able to recover completely and return to his 2019 to 2020 form?

Bud Dupree is a very risky free agent prospect. Coming off of a torn ACL in 2020, buyers will beware Bud Dupree in 2021. There is a clear and obvious upside to signing Bud Dupree. Signing Dupree to a one-year prove-it deal could pay great dividends. However, his solid baseline pass-rushing prowess will make him an expensive flier option. This is a risk the New York Giants are not likely to take with so many other holes on their roster.