Part of Bud Dupree’s plans for early this offseason are to take some time off to focus on his non-football businesses.
“Just try to make some money off the field,” the outside linebacker said Monday.
But it will be a big decision his employers need to make that will affect Dupree’s finances even more. And Dupree said that impending decision will be on his mind — perhaps for as long as throughout the spring.
The 2015 first-round pick is entering his fourth NFL season, and under the terms of the league’s current collective bargaining agreement the Steelers own an option for his fifth season that they must exercise by a May 3 deadline.
“It’s definitely on my mind,” Dupree said less than 24 hours after the Steelers’ season ended with a home loss in the divisional round of the playoffs. “I’d love to be here. But if they don’t (execute the option), I’ve just got to deal with it and (eventually) go someplace else. But I’d love to be here my whole career. I grind, they know I grind; I work hard, so I hope everything works out.”
Dupree said he expected to have an organizational season exit interview Tuesday, and he was hopeful he might get some good news then.
For players taken between picks Nos. 11-32 in the first round (of the 2015 draft, in this case), the options picked up are worth the average of the third through 25th highest salaries at the position in the league.
Last year, for linebackers that meant a $8.7 million option for the 2018 season, which is exactly what the Steelers picked up on 2014 first-round pick Ryan Shazier.
The options are fully guaranteed in case of injury — but barring injury, teams can walk away from the option until next spring.
“That fifth-year option, I would love to get it so I can be with the Steelers throughout my second contract,” Dupree said. “But I know it’s a business from both sides, so whatever happens.”
Since the fifth-year option for first-round picks was instituted beginning with the 2011 draft class, the Steelers have used it on three of their four picks. Only with 2013 first-rounder Jarvis Jones was it not exercised.
Although teams are permitted to pick up the option beginning Jan. 1, the Steelers waited until April to announce the move each of the three times it has been done — even for no-brainers Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro and Shazier.
Dupree has started 23 of the past 24 games (including playoffs) and has 11 sacks in that time. Used more in coverage this season, he had six sacks and 40 combined tackles.
“We will see what’s going to happen,” Dupree said.