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: The 2021 season will be Terrell Edmunds’ last in Pittsburgh.
Explanation: 2021 is the final year of Terrell Edmunds’ rookie contract, barring the possible exercise of the fifth-year option. While he has made strides over his three seasons in the league, there is a conversation to be had over what his worth is as a long-term starter in terms of price tag, which could lead to a rare early departure for a first-round pick.
Terrell Edmunds is settling into one of those players who might be good enough to be a starter, but not good enough to pay a significant amount for relative to what he might get on the open market. With the fifth-year option now fully guaranteed once exercised beginning with the 2018 class, and the fairly significant price tag it brings, it’s unlikely the Steelers pick up Edmunds.
That sets up the scenario in which the 2021 season is the final year on his current, rookie, contract, and unless they sign him to a short extension before the regular season begins, then he will be on the path toward unrestricted free agency in 2022.
Starters and players with pedigree tend to find money somewhere. The odds are good that somebody will be willing to pay Edmunds more than the Steelers would be willing to pay him.
The Steelers don’t have anybody else who profiles as a potential future starter. In fact, their safety depth is pretty thin in terms of viable candidates for meaningful defensive playing time. Even if Antoine Brooks continues to grow, he may be too much of a liability to be a full-time safety.
The easiest time to understand the value of a starter-level strong safety is when you don’t have one, and I don’t think the Steelers will make that mistake with Edmunds. I doubt that his fifth-year option will be picked up, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be willing to sign him to a second contract, which shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive. They know their track record in the draft with defensive backs.