The Pittsburgh Steelers were in the unusual situation, really the first situation, of having two fifth-year options to pick up in the first year. One for each of their starting safeties, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds. If this was blackjack, the Steelers split their aces. They picked up Fitzpatrick’s option but declined Edmunds.’
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Fitzpatrick reacted to both of those moves. He was, as you’d expect, happy to know the Steelers picked up his option, which will be worth a little north of $10 million for 2022.
“You definitely appreciate it,” he told reporters over Zoom. “Guarantees me another year for a great city, great team, great organization. So it was definitely a blessing getting that kind of sigh of relief. Don’t have to worry about, ‘what if, what if?’ for another two years. So it’s definitely a blessing. I’m happy that it happened. And I’ll make them proud of their decision.”
It was the most no-brainer decision of the offseason. However, the odds of Fitzpatrick actually playing on that fifth year option are low. He should receive a long-term extension next summer. It’s a bit difficult to project exactly how much he’ll net with an extension but suffice to say, it will be a lot of money. Currently, the highest-paid safety in football is Justin Simmons, recently inking a four-year, $61 million contract, an average yearly value of $15.25 million. Fitzpatrick could surpass that as football’s most expensive safety. His play has certainly made him worth that much.
Fitzpatrick was disappointed to hear the Steelers declined the option on Edmunds’ rookie deal.
“It’s a part of the game. I wish they did. He’s a great player. I love playing with him. Whatever happens, happens. It’s up to people upstairs. We’re going to go out to season and play our best. He’s a great player. He’s a hard player. I love playing with him. So like I said, we’re going to go out there this year and just play hard no matter what.”
Kevin Colbert cited cap space concerns as the primary reason why the team declined the option for Edmunds. To a degree, that may be true, but the Steelers have always picked up the option on talented players they believed had a long-term future with the team. That decline doesn’t ensure 2021 will be Edmunds’ last season with the Steelers, but it doesn’t bode well for his chances of staying with the team. He’ll have to take bigger steps forward in 2022, especially in coverage as a playmaker, to convince the team to re-sign him.