The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers pick up Terrell Edmunds’ fifth-year option next offseason?
This is a more significant question than you might be thinking right now, thanks to the changes made in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Beginning with the draft class of 2018, all fifth-year options are fully guaranteed upon being exercised, so the decision to pick up a player’s option is more momentous than it was before.
Now that the Steelers have both of their starting safeties due to have their fifth-year options picked up during the 2021 offseason, after having acquired first-team All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick via trade, it becomes far less obvious that they have any long-term visions of keeping Edmunds around for a more extended period of time.
Would the Steelers really want to guaranteed Edmunds a large salary in 2022 knowing that they have a big extension to work out with Fitzpatrick the following offseason? Remember, prior to the current CBA, fifth-year options were only guaranteed for injury until the start of the new league year of the player’s fifth season, so if a player were to be released prior to that, teams were still able to get out of that deal.
Obviously this question can’t be answered at least until we see Edmunds go through the 2020 season, and I’m not posing it now looking for an answer. Rather, I’m throwing it out there as something to consider for the future, and to discuss now, as an issue to be aware of on the horizon. After all, he’s still a rather young player just two seasons into his career. We don’t know who he is going to be yet. And failing to pick up his fifth-year option also wouldn’t preclude him from having an extended stay in Pittsburgh, either.