The Titans liked Bud Dupree enough come to terms on a massive contract during the first week of free agency. Ola Adeniyi, a 2018 undrafted rookie who served as Dupree's backup in Pittsburgh, is joining Dupree in Nashville after signing a one-year contract with the Titans on Monday.
The 6-foot-1, 248-pound Adeniyi played his college football at Toledo. As a junior, Adeniyi enjoyed a breakout season that saw him record 8.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss while helping the Rockets win a conference title. He ultimately chose to sign with the Steelers after not hearing his name called during the 2018 draft.
"A lot of teams reached out to me after the draft was over," Adeniyi said during his first NFL training camp. "I just kinda sat down with my agent and talked about what would be the best opportunity."
Adeniyi earned himself a spot on the Steelers' 53-man roster in 2018 despite suffering an injury during Pittsburgh's preseason finale that put him on injured reserve. And while he was able to stay healthy during the past two seasons, Adeniyi has mostly been a special teams contributor. In 32 regular-season games, Adeniyi has 25 tackles and three forced fumbles. He made his first career start in Pittsburgh's Week 17 loss to Cleveland last season.
While his stats leave something to be desired, Adeniyi's age (he's still just 23 years old) and potential were apparently enough to convince the Titans to sign him. His familiarity with Dupree may have also contributed to the Titans signing their second former Steelers linebacker in a week. Along with Dupree, Adeniyi will also be reunited with inside linebacker Tuzar Skipper, a former teammate at Toledo as well as with the Steelers (though he never made the active roster). A fellow former undrafted rookie, Skipper initially signed with the Steelers before making his NFL debut with the Giants. Skipper made two starts in four games with the Giants last season.
While Skipper and Adeniyi will have to earn their way onto the Titans' roster, Dupree was signed to make a significant impact on a Titans defense that collected just 19 sacks last season. The 22nd overall pick in the 2015 draft, Dupree overcame a slow start in Pittsburgh to become one of the NFL's best pass rushers over the past two seasons. Dupree racked up a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2019, and had eight sacks 11 games into the 2020 season before suffering a season-ending ACL injury.
Dupree recently said he will be healthy and ready to participate in the Titans' 2021 training camp.
"I'm going to go out and just play with my hair on fire just trying to get after the quarterback as much as I can," Dupree said shortly after signing his five-year, $82.5 million deal. "Creating pressure, trying to get the ball out, just everything I can do just to keep the train rolling man and help those guys on D."
Dupree has something in common with his new coach coach, Mike Vrabel. Like Dupree, Vrabel was a Steelers linebacker at the start of his career before making a name for himself with the Patriots. Dupree is surely hoping to have a similar story in Tennessee, where the Titans are looking to make it back the Super Bowl for the first time in over two decades.