On 102.5 The Game, there was some news from Turron Davenport about the Tennessee Titans and their plans for the upcoming season.
To give you some context, Davenport covers the Tennessee Titans for ESPN and he is someone who is at practice every day and has relationships with this team. He isn’t someone trying to drum up views with clickbait or anything like that.
While he had some interesting insight into what he believes is going on at the quarterback position for the Tennessee Titans, the most interesting information involved Bud Dupree.
Dupree is a lightning rod for criticism and some of it is definitely warranted. People point out his missed games and his lack of sacks, and when you are making the kind of money that Dupree is making you are paid to produce.
Having said that, he really was never brought in to be the guy, he was brought in to be a bookend opposite Harold Landry to see if he could be a Pro Bowl-caliber EDGE when he had help. Don’t forget that when Dupree was signed, it was after a season where Mike Vrabel/Shane Bowen were working together to call a defense without a designated DC.
That season was an absolute trainwreck on defense and that misstep meant that then-GM Jon Robinson and Vrabel needed to know how much Landry was worth before they had to pay him. Landry was already doing everything from playing off-ball linebacker and slot corner to rushing the passer, but without the actual production, it was going to be hard to give him a contract that reflected his importance to the defense.
Enter Bud Dupree and Denico Autry, who helped fill out a line that saw Landry voted to his first Pro Bowl as he ended the season with a career-high 13.5 sacks in 18 games.
While everyone has been assuming that Bud Dupree is going to be a cap casualty, that decision hasn’t actually been made yet.
What are the Tennessee Titans actually doing with Bud Dupree
Now to the information that caused some eyebrows to raise over the weekend. On Stillman & Company, Davenport mentioned that Bud Dupree could be back in 2023 for the Tennessee Titans. Here are his actual words from the conversation:
"“Very possible that Bud Dupree is going to be back. They have to weigh that contract against the lack of production, but they have a full understanding, the people that I talk to. it is clear that there is a difference with him on the field. So it is just a matter of placing a value on that difference that he makes when he is on the field.”"
Later he clarified further that he didn’t know if Dupree would take a pay cut, but he explained that it is hard to look at the seasons that Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, and Harold Landry had in 2021 with Bud Dupree, and not give him at least some of the credit for that.
If Dupree does stay on the roster for 2023 whether that is on a reduced salary or not, it will be the first time that Ran Carthon has made a decision that goes counter to what most Tennessee Titans fans want.
It would also absolutely mean that Mike Vrabel gave Bud Dupree his stamp of approval since we know that Carthon isn’t making any decision without Vrabel’s consent.
This is going to be an interesting wrinkle to monitor, but a few things to remember before this decision is made.
First, new Assistant GM Chad Brinker was hired by the Tennessee Titans because of his understanding of how to manipulate cap space and because he has created programs, models, and formulas dedicated to making smart decisions about players with injuries.
Second, if you believed in Carthon and Vrabel to rebuild this team around the running game and defense a week ago, trust them to make the right decision here.
Finally, there are ways to rework Bud Dupree’s contract to make his cap hit much more tolerable. Dupree has no guaranteed money in the remaining two years of his contract and the Tennessee Titans are projected to have nearly $150 million in cap space in 2024.
Those factors should be enough to understand why there might be a reason to keep him, but either way, a decision hasn’t been made at this point so keep your powder dry.