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 should be signed to an extension later this year.
Explanation: While the broad—perhaps universal—consensus will be that the Steelers should not pick up Terrell Edmunds’ fifth-year option, which would be for the 2022 season, that does not mean that they can’t continue to do business with him, or that he shouldn’t continue to be a starting safety beyond this season.
It is far from uncommon for a team to opt to bypass a player’s fifth-year option, but nevertheless still proceed to sign him to a contract extension, or a new contract a year later. This will only become more prominent with the changes in the CBA about the fifth-year option, especially the change that makes the option fully guaranteed when exercised.
Teams are going to be much more hesitant to pick up players’ options as a result of the automatic guarantee, but as a result, we will probably see more extensions done as well, and Edmunds is a good example of a player for whom it would make sense.
Basically, without the fifth-year option, he will be treated as any other non-first-round rookie, essentially entering the final year of his rookie contract. He has already established himself as a starter, even if not a high-end one, so it makes sense to get a deal done.
First and foremost, there is little incentive for Edmunds to want to do an extension right now, when he has ample opportunity to play out the 2021 season and raise his value in time to hit free agency. If he can put together three or four takeaways and show a bit better range in coverage, he’ll make a lot more than whatever extension the Steelers could afford.
Conversely, Edmunds is coming off of his best season, but the Steelers have no assurances that what they saw is sustainable. They should want to see him play this year out and how he turns out before committing more significant money to him. They also don’t have the salary cap space, and his base salary is just a hair under $2 million, so there isn’t much room tot negotiate at all.