Colbert: Decision To Decline Fifth-Year Option On Edmunds Based On Salary Cap, Not Performance

The Pittsburgh Steelers made their annual fifth-year option decisions on safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds recently. The former had his exercised and the latter did not. On Thursday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked during his interview on 93.7 The Fan about the team’s decision to exercise the fifth-year option on Fitzpatrick while not doing so with Edmunds.

“Yeah, again, it was unusual,” Colbert said “When we made the trade for Minkah, we actually had two safeties that were in the same draft and would be hitting that option at the same time. And it was tough not to do Terrell because Terrell has done some good things. Last year was probably his best season, albeit prior to the shoulder injury, which limited him really the last three games that he was active for. So, we didn’t feel good about not tendering him, but again, from a cap standpoint, we had to be realistic about what we would be able to handle in a given year. So, tough decision. Not a tough decision to exercise the option with Minkah, but to not do it for Terrell, it was really all based on salary cap and not his performance because, again, we think last year was his best year.”

That’s quite an interesting comment from Colbert when it comes to Edmunds as his fifth-year option amount for 2022 would have been just $6.753 million. The show asked if that amount still would have put the Steelers in a bind salary-cap wise for 2022.

“Whenever we’re dealing with the cap, we deal with it in 2021, but we’re always looking at what it will be in 2022, 2023, 2024,” Colbert said. “We always try to keep a handle on what will be out there and how we can balance it and keep it.”

Personally, I think Colbert blaming the team’s decision to not exercise Edmunds’ fifth-year option for 2022 because of salary cap reasons is a bit rich. In short, I think the decision came down to the team not thinking Edmunds is currently worth nearly $7 million for 2022. If they thought that he was worth that amount, they would have picked up his fifth-year option. It really is just that simple.

While Edmunds didn’t have his fifth-year option exercised by the Steelers, Colbert indicated on Thursday that it’s not currently a forgone conclusion that the former first round draft pick out of Virginia Tech won’t be back in 2022.

“And it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be able to keep Terrell if we decide to sign them next year,” Colbert said. “I mean, it’s not like we said he wouldn’t be back, it’s just that we didn’t want to exercise both options at this point.”

Unless Edmunds follows up his improved 2020 season with an even better one in 2021, it’s hard to imagine him being back in 2022, or at least re-signing before the new league year and unrestricted free agency get underway in March. Stranger things have happened, however. In the meantime, 2021 is now a contract year for Edmunds. He’ll have a huge carrot dangling in front of him this coming season.

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