Why did Bud Dupree choose the Falcons over the Steelers?

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The Falcons have completely overhauled the defense, specifically the front. Jessie Bates III solidified the backend while Kaden Elliss gives Atlanta a versatile second-level defender, but it was Terry Fontenot’s work in the trenches that will make the most significant difference.

Grady Jarrett, Ta’Quon Graham, Arnold Ebiketie, and DeAngelo Malone are joined by Lorenzo Carter (again), David Onyemata, Calais Campbell, Eddie Goldman, and Bud Dupree.

The headliners are certainly Bates and Campbell, but the latter was a more peculiar signing because of his age and Atlanta’s lack of legit Super Bowl aspirations. Calais Campbell joining the Falcons instead of the Bills, Jets, Ravens, and Jaguars was shocking, to say the least. His explanation is revealing of what’s being built in Flowery Branch:

“Calais Campbell revealed that despite Aaron Rodgers’ efforts to get him to New York, what is happening in Atlanta was more enticing. Moreover, an interesting facet of the Falcons’ recruiting efforts involved Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot sitting down with Campbell and watching film on Desmond Ridder.”

It’s just a reminder that free agents value fits very differently. Some prefer financial security, geography, or a shot at a ring. Calais Campbell sees the potential of a young team, and Arthur Blank’s philanthropic efforts sealed the deal. Bud Dupree’s reasoning for coming to Atlanta over Pittsburgh is much different.

“I know what Pittsburgh is, I know they want me there, I know what I am getting myself into,” Dupree told Ramon Foster on The Ramon Foster Show, via Sports Illustrated. “This is the hardest decision I’ve had to make. I wanted to be able to just do a one-year deal, and Pittsburgh wanted two. I want to have a good year and hit the market again.”

The Steelers drafted Dupree 22nd overall in the 2015 cycle, as he logged 19.5 sacks over his final two seasons in Pittsburgh. He parlayed that ascending play into a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Titans in 2021, but his stint in Tennessee only lasted two seasons. He logged seven sacks, eight tackles for loss, and 17 quarterback hits in 22 games with the Titans.

Now, the Georgia native is back home with a bounce back campaign in his sights to parlay into another long-term, lucrative deal. It’s a win-win for the Falcons. His contract is team-friendly, so if he struggles to stay healthy or produce, it’s no skin off the team’s back. On the other hand, if he comes out on fire as he intends, the Falcons look like geniuses.

Photographer: Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire


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