The Pittsburgh Steelers front office has a number of decisions to make this year. Most of the big ones will have to be decided within the next two months or so. Another can wait a bit longer. That is the decision over whether or not they will exercise the fifth-year option of their 2018 first-round draft pick, safety Terrell Edmunds.
A full-time starter since virtually the beginning of his career, the Virginia Tech product has generally trended upward over the course of his three seasons, with 2020 certainly marking his best year and featuring a couple of interceptions, splash plays being a key absence in his game.
The decision is complicated by multiple factors, one being the fact that, under the new CBA, fifth-year options are now fully guaranteed upon exercising, rather than at the start of the new league year of that fifth year. previously, they were only guaranteed for injury.
Another component is the fact that they have two decisions to make, and the other one is a no-brainer. Their other starting safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, was also a 2018 first-round draft pick, whom they acquired via trade in September of 2019. He has since been named a two-time first-team All-Pro and will obviously get paid. But who will he play next to for the long term? Can he and Edmunds build a long-lasting on-field relationship?
“I think so. I think we play really well together”, he told reporters on Thursday. “I think we both complement each other very well. Terrell is more down closer to the box, I’m more further away from the box, controlling the posts and stuff like that. He’s a good dude off the field. I love him as a teammate, as a brother. Hopefully if we continue to play together we can make that happen”.
It should be noted that the decision to exercise Edmunds’ fifth-year option or not is really here nor there regarding his long-term viability in Pittsburgh. Even prior to the fifth-year option becoming fully guaranteed right away, there are a number of examples of playing having their options declined and then signing extensions—even in the same year in which the option was declined.
I imagine the consensus is that Edmunds’ performance does not merit the pay that the option year would dictate—perhaps in the realm of $8 million—but he could be a serviceable potential long-time starter at a cheaper rate. The Steelers still have a few months to decide on the option, but I would be surprised if they picked it up.