AFC North

Steelers Should Re-Sign Terrell Edmunds

Steelers should re-sign first round pick Edmunds
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The Steelers should re-sign Terrell Edmunds this offseason. Pittsburgh declined to pick up the safety’s fifth-year option for next year but should look to bring him back on a cheaper, long-term deal.

Edmunds has been the starting strong safety in Pittsburgh since he was drafted in the first round in 2018. He has 340 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and five interceptions in 64 games.

Background

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Terrell Edmunds in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Edmunds immediately became the team’s starting Strong Safety thanks to his athleticism and run defense. Edmunds has been viewed in less than a positive light however because of his lack of forced turnovers.

In four years he has just 21 pass deflections, five interceptions, and one fumble recovery. However, he is still a strong-run defender on a team that needs as many as it can get. He is also a consistent tackler. He has only missed about 10% of his tackle attempts on the season which is better than fellow safeties Kareem Jackson and Budda Baker.

The Right Fit

Edmunds is a perfect fit for the Steelers because of the other safety playing next to him. Free Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is a turnover machine. He has 11 interceptions, five fumble recoveries, and four forced fumbles in just under three seasons in Pittsburgh.

Fitzpatrick being an elite-level ball hawk allows Edmunds to thrive in his role as a run stopper.

From Turnovers to Turnover

Another reason the Steelers should re-sign Terrell Edmunds is that they are in the midst of a lot of change in their defensive backfield. Gone from last year’s team are Cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton. This year Joe Haden appears to be on the way out as well. Keeping Edmunds gives Pittsburgh a chance to still have good chemistry within that unit.

Spreading the Wealth

With it likely being Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s last year with the team, Pittsburgh will have a good amount of cap space to use this offseason. This will give the Steelers an opportunity to re-sign their own free agents and go after new ones, in a way they haven’t been able to in over a decade. Deciding where they spend money will be important, because of all the holes this team will have to fill this offseason.

Plugging the Holes

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a lot of needs this offseason. Luckily they have both cap space to use on free agents as well as six or seven draft picks for rookies. Among Edmunds potentially leaving the strong safety role empty the team will have holes at the following positions

  • Quarterback
  • Wide Receiver
  • Offensive Tackle
  • Offensive Guard
  • Starting Outside Corner

Not to mention probably needing upgrades at center, defensive line, and inside linebacker. With all of these needs, Pittsburgh will have to be strategic on where to put rookies, outside free agents, and internal free agents.

Edmunds is a perfect candidate, along with JuJu Smith-Schuster, to reclaim a role on this team as an internal UFA. He fits well with Fitzpatrick and is now a staple of the defensive backs, and he shouldn’t cost too much either.

The Right Price

The Steelers declined Edmunds’ fifth-year option this summer which was worth $6.753 million guaranteed for next season. Using this as a starting point and comparing it to other safeties in the league, I wouldn’t expect a contract for Edmunds to total more than $6 million on average annually.

Looking at players with similar numbers signed recently – I’d expect something in the 3-4 million range for the base salaries of a contract. Fellow AFC North Safety Chuck Clark received a 3-year, 15.5 million dollar extension in 2020. In that contract season, he had 96 combined tackles, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, and one interception. He was also given that extension before the country’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams are likely to pay a little less in the current salary cap situation compared to then.

Just this month New England Patriots Safety Adrian Phillips got a 3-year extension for 12.75 million. This season Phillips had 92 combined tackles, four interceptions, and one forced fumble. A large portion of this was a signing bonus, keeping his base salary lower.

Both of these comparisons include modest yearly base salaries which are good for Pittsburgh. They can also likely talk down the bigger signing bonuses these players got because of the number of turnovers they are involved in.

Conclusion

The Steelers should re-sign Terrell Edmunds for his play, fit on the team, and because they have so many other needs on the roster. A known commodity who fits what they want to do is something they should make a priority. Especially if it won’t cost too much.

Roster decisions in the NFL can be extremely risky. Asking a rookie to do what Edmunds does for you could blow up in your face. And taking that rookie eliminates a pick you might use to improve your offensive line or middle linebacker. Spending big money on a better free agent is a risk because you don’t always know what you’re getting. You could sign someone who is past their prime or isn’t a good fit for the system.

Instead, the Steelers should re-sign Terrell Edmunds for cheap early in the offseason so they can move on to the rest of their needs.

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  1. Pingback: Corey Clement Is an Option - Championship Sports Media

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