A week ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t have a starting strong safety. With Terrell Edmunds inking a one-year deal Friday afternoon, now they do. But Kevin Colbert made it clear Edmunds’ presence doesn’t take safety off the board during this weekend’s draft.
Speaking during his and Mike Tomlin’s pre-draft press conference Monday, Colbert talked about the Edmunds’ signing.
“We were open and honest with Terrell throughout the whole process as he was with us,” Colbert told reporters. “We were able to stay connected and see where it all went. We didn’t know where the market would be. He didn’t. We always encourage our free agents that if it’s going to better serve you to find out what else is there. That’s part of the decision-making. We’re doing the same thing on our side. Fortunately, he’s coming back to us. He gives us that 22nd starter so to speak. ”
After being a free agent for over a month, Edmunds came back to Pittsburgh on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. It’s an ultra-cheap deal that makes Edmunds a short-term option, not a long-term fixture. Colbert said Edmunds’ signing, or anything else in free agency, won’t terribly change who the team will or won’t draft.
“We have NFL veteran starters at each position. The draft process will provide great competition for that. It’s not like any of these young men that we draft will come in and be ordained as starter. I know Coach doesn’t do that ordinarily but when you don’t have great depth or even what you believe to be a starter, sometimes those guys have to play a little quicker than desirable. And we’d like to avoid that. But again, to Coach’s other point on free agency, anything we did in free agency is not going to preclude us from drafting a player at a position.”
Edmunds’ selection in 2018 was proof of that. In the 2018 offseason, the team went out and signed veteran safety Morgan Burnett to a three-year deal worth over $14 million. That didn’t prevent them from taking Edmunds 28th overall, a surprise first-round inclusion. Initially expected to be a backup and sub-package player, Edmunds quickly inserted himself into the starting lineup following an early Burnett injury. Colbert made the point that what doesn’t seem like a need now can quickly change.
“What looks like a position of need at a certain time can change instantly. And we have to recognize that and just try to take the best players available if [their draft grade] is not close.”
Pittsburgh certainly was more aggressive in free agency than any past offseason, loading up along the interior line with James Daniels and Mason Cole, adding an off-ball linebacker in Myles Jack, a cornerback in Levi Wallace, and of course quarterback Mitch Trubisky. While it was a flashier free agency, it hit all the same notes. Plug every potential vacancy with a veteran so the team doesn’t enter the draft with a glaring need that could lead to a reach or mistake. Heading into the 2022 draft, the board is pretty wide open for Pittsburgh.