The Pittsburgh Steelers made the decision not to exercise Terrell Edmunds’ fifth-year option earlier this offseason. The somewhat surprising move means that the starting strong safety is scheduled to hit the open market in March of 2022 as an unrestricted free agent.
That doesn’t mean the team won’t swoop back in and keep him in the fold before he gets there—or even after he’s already on the market. He talked to reporters yesterday about how head coach Mike Tomlin personally called him to let him know about the decision and that it doesn’t mean they’re moving on.
They still have high expectations for the 2018 first-round draft pick. In fact, defensive coordinator Keith Butler expects him to be entering the best part of his career, as he explained to reporters yesterday, elaborating on his philosophy that a player’s best years are often his second three years in the league—a period in which Edmunds is now entering.
“I think he will be much better because of the experience he’s had over the last few years”, Butler said. “You can always learn from that. “I’ve always thought that the guys who are in their first three years are really kind of learning the league and learning the people they’re playing against, getting a chance to react a little bit faster because they’ll recognize things a little bit quicker”.
“I’m looking for him to do that. And I think he’s gonna be quicker, not because he’s going to get faster or quicker or anything like that, but because he knows what he’s doing”, he continued. “He’ll know what he’s doing better, he’ll react faster, he’ll maybe be there a split second earlier and get that interception that he didn’t last year. So we look for him to be better”.
Edmunds did double his career interception total last season, actually netting two picks in one game after managing only one through his first two seasons combined. He also posted a career-high eight passes defensed, more than double his combined total for the 2018-19 seasons.
It is clear that he has made strides each season, even if they have not come as rapidly as would be hoped. But Butler was optimistic about Bud Dupree’s ability to continue to develop, and he was right on that one.
If Edmunds can cut down a split second on his reaction time and get that much closer to the ball often enough, then he can turn himself into a much more dynamic and impactful player. He’s still young, just 24 years old despite having logged 47 career games, and for the Steelers, they’re still very much minding his continued development.