The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Terrell Edmunds as a first-round pick will not have his fifth-round option not picked up.
Explanation: Fifth-round options were introduced in the 2011 CBA. Since then, only Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns, among who have been eligible, have not had their options picked up by the Steelers. The 2020 CBA changes the option somewhat, however, and while Edmunds has been solid, he hasn’t proven to be a franchise piece, and they have another safety to pay in Minkah Fitzpatrick.
How many people can you pay, and how much can you pay them? This felt like an inevitability as soon as the Steelers traded for Fitzpatrick and it was obvious that he was going to be good. They still have to re-sign Cameron Heyward, but this unit’s young core is Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt, and Devin Bush, all three of whom are eventually going to make a salary at or near the top of their respective positions.
The new CBA makes fifth-year options guaranteed as soon as it’s exercised, and it has to be exercised after three seasons. Pittsburgh would have to pick up Edmunds’ option for 2022 by April or May of 2021, which means he only has one season to show that he’s worth a big guaranteed raise, even on a one-year rental.
Not having your option picked up and your team giving up on you are two different things, though. It’s happened before that a team doesn’t pick up a player’s option but later they end up agreeing to a long-term deal. With the new option rules, that will probably be even more likely to happen, and Edmunds might be just the sort of player it would affect.
Most people didn’t expect the Steelers to pick up Bud Dupree’s option, but they did. Granted, that so far has been the only one that wasn’t a no-brainer, the others being Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, Ryan Shazier, and Watt. All are Pro Bowlers. Had Shazier stayed healthy, he would probably be an All-Pro too.
But the point is, they put their money where their mouth is when they believe in their players, even if it seems to fly in the face of conventional—or at least fan—logic. If the Steelers think Edmunds is a quality starter after next season, they’ll pick up his option. Maybe they let it play out before working out a deal, but they’ll at least make that commitment. He’s no Jarvis Jones or Artie Burns, who were pretty clear failures earlier on, having been benched multiple times each before their option came up.