Chargers competing with AFC foe for hidden gem pass rusher

Los Angeles Chargers Introduce Jim Harbaugh As Head Coach
Los Angeles Chargers Introduce Jim Harbaugh As Head Coach / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The LA Chargers surprised just about everyone when they brought back pass rushers Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. Given their ominous cap situation, the Chargers were widely expected to move on from at least one of Mack or Bosa in order to keep beloved receiver Keenan Allen.

When the dust settled, Mack and Bosa agreed to restructured contracts and Allen was traded to Chicago. Given Allen's importance to the offense and standing amongst Chargers fans, Jim Harbuagh will be hoping that Mack and Bosa come good in 2024.

With Mack getting up there in age (he turned 33 in February) and Bosa becoming less and less reliable over the years in terms of staying healthy, the Chargers would be smart to add another proven pass rusher for defensive coordinator Jesse Minter.

Well, they're reportedly kicking the tires on free agent Bud Dupree. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Dupree visited LA on Thursday. The Steelers and Falcons are the only other teams involved in the Dupree sweepstakes.

Chargers are looking to sign free agent pass rusher Bud Dupree

A former first-round pick of the Steelers in 2015, Dupree has 59 career sacks in nine seasons. He parlayed a strong six-year run with Pittsburgh into a $82.5 million contract with the Titans in March of 2021. That proved to be a gross overpay, as Dupree played 22 games in two seasons before he was released last year in a cap-crunching maneuver.

Dupree was quickly scooped up by the Falcons. Two years removed from an ACL tear, the Georgia native enjoyed his best season since 2020 with his hometown club. He appeared in 16 games (his most since 2019) and logged 6.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, 38 pressures and 16 third down stops against the run, per Pro Football Focus.

The Chargers' edge rusher room is razor thin behind Mack, Bosa and 2023 second-round pick Tuli Tuipulotu. Dupree might be slowing down entering his age-31 season, but he'd give Harbaugh and Minter a needed fourth pass rusher. The fact he's been around the block would be a bonus.

The only problem? They're competing with the Steelers, who drafted Dupree 22nd overall out of Kentucky in 2015. By all accounts, Dupree enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh. He's even open to the idea of returning there, which he revealed in a recent interview. He still has a strong relationship with the team and waxed poetic about longtime head coach Mike Tomlin.

It won't be easy for the Chargers to fend of their AFC foe for Dupree's signature, but Harbuagh knows a thing or two about recruiting.