Bears Urged to Sign 53-Sack Pass Rusher Before Training Camp

Bud Dupree Bears Targets Bears Signings Chicago Bears News Bears Pass Rushers Austin Booker

Getty Former Falcons pass rusher Bud Dupree.

The Chicago Bears have made massive improvements to key parts of their roster over the past two months of the 2024 NFL offseason, but their defensive line is arguably in a worse place than they left it when they finished the 2023 season.

Could that drive the Bears to sign another veteran pass rusher before training camp?

The Bears could still use depth for the edges of their defensive line in 2024. They have star Montez Sweat and veteran DeMarcus Walker returning and added Jake Martin (free agent signing) and Austin Booker (fifth-round pick), but Booker remains raw and Martin is not exactly an upgrade from what the team lost in Yannick Ngakoue.

Chicago’s hope is growth from the interior of its defensive line — namely from Gervon Dexter Sr. and Zacch Pickens — will allow their current edge rushers to have a greater impact in 2024. If the Bears want to hedge their bets, though, Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey believes nine-year vet Bud Dupree and his 53 career sacks could interest them.

[Dupree’s] all-around game has not dropped off like other veteran edge-rushers still on the free-agent market,” Tansey wrote on May 6. “The Bears may be comfortable with Sweat and the other players already around him on the depth chart, but it never hurts to bring in additional help on the defensive interior.”

Bud Dupree Would Offer Depth in Ideal Price Range

Dupree could be an intriguing supplement option for the Bears to consider if they want to enhance the depth of their pass-rushing unit before training camp starts in late July.

The 31-year-old had 6.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and 38 pressures in his 16 starts for the Falcons in 2023, which would have ranked first, third and second, respectively, for the Bears defense last year — excluding Sweat’s production from before the trade. He also missed just one game after missing 18 combined due to injuries in his previous three seasons, showing he is still capable of handling a heavier workload in the NFL.

While Dupree’s age and injury history might make him too risky for a team looking to add a full-time starter to their defense, he seems to have all the necessary tools to be an impact addition for a team like Chicago that is more dedicated to rotating its edges.

The Bears might also be able to land Dupree for a bargain. The Falcons paid just $3 million for his services in 2023, significantly less than the Bears paid Ngakoue ($10.5 million) when they signed him to their roster early in training camp last August. Even if Dupree feels his bounce-back year deserves a pay bump, the Bears would still likely not have to pay anywhere close to the amount they gave Ngakoue to add him to the roster.

Are Bears More Interested in Developing Austin Booker?

The Bears could still realistically add a veteran pass rusher to their rotation for 2024. Dupree could be an option, as could Ngakoue — who is healthy again after breaking his ankle in 2023 and remains unsigned. Then again, maybe the Bears are more curious to see how Booker performs in his first workouts before rushing back into free agency.

The Bears traded back into the fifth round to land Booker, giving up their 2025 fourth-round pick to re-acquire the fifth-rounder they gave to Buffalo in the Ryan Bates trade earlier this offseason. Afterward, Bears general manager Ryan Poles made it clear they have high expectations for Booker and the type of pass rusher he can become for them.

“He’s a guy we thought had tremendous upside,” Poles said during his post-draft press conference on April 27. “We love his length. We love how hard he plays. At 21 years old, [there’s] a lot of growth and development there.”

The Bears can afford to take things slowly with Booker as a rookie and might prefer to do that with three other veterans hungry for reps off the edge. If he shows early signs of promise against the NFL competition, though, they may feel that feeding him reps early and often is the best long-term decision for their defense’s continuity.

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