Earlier today the Pittsburgh Steelers chose not to be exercise the fifth year option for safety Terrell Edmunds. To some, this comes as no surprise. To others, they are surprised simply because the Steelers currently have no other options. As I look back on the young career of Edmunds there’s one thing that jumps out at me as to why he isn’t getting that option.
Edmunds was a surprise selection by the Steelers in the first round (pick 28) of the 2018 Draft. The pedigree (his father played in the NFL and his brother was drafted earlier in the first) was there and athletically, he was terrific but with guys like Nick Chubb and Darius Leonard still on the board fans were definitely stunned. Much like Troy Polamalu, he started slowly and had plenty of detractors. Unlike Troy however the improvement wasn’t there at nearly the same rate.
Since 2018 though, there has been gradual improvement in Edmunds’ overall game. He’s become a better tackler and his coverage skills have also moved forward in a positive direction. But in my opinion his biggest issue is exactly why he isn’t getting the fifth year option. The number of splash plays created by Edmunds have been few and far between.
In 47 career games, Edmunds has just three interceptions. He has zero forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. If you need a reason he isn’t getting the $6.75 million option there you go. Conversely, by the end of his third season, Polamalu had recorded seven picks, three forced fumbles and recovered two. He also scored two defensive touchdowns as well. Is it fair to compare the two? Probably not considering Polamalu will head into the Hall of Fame this summer but Edmunds was drafted with the specific purpose of finding a new version of 43.
Had the Steelers granted Edmunds his option it would have made him the 19th highest-paid safety in football. Would that sit well with you? It certainly didn’t with Kevin Colbert and company. This does not mean however that Edmunds can’t return. The two parties can still work on a new contract, one that would pay him more “in line with comparable safeties,” which means less money. That decision, based almost strictly on his 2021 performance, will fall in Edmunds’ very hands.
By all accounts Edmunds is a great teammate and tremendous young man off the field. If those things along with some improved play were enough he would have received the option. Getting paid in the NFL however is about splash plays and Edmunds just hasn’t made enough of them.