Sitting at 2-5 on the season after a frustrating 16-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a bit of an unfamiliar spot under 16th-year head coach.
With rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett experienced real, live growing pains on the field as a starting quarterback in the NFL, and a young offense still struggling to truly find its rhythm under much-maligned second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada, the Steelers could find themselves at 2-6 after the Week 8 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, sending the black and gold into the bye week on a low note.
That record, coupled with the bye week, could lead to the Steelers becoming “sellers” ahead of the November 1 trade deadline.
Already, third-year receiver Chase Claypool has been part of a number of rumors and speculation regarding a trade, having been linked to the Green Bay Packers and the Tennessee Titans in recent days. Along with Claypool, fifth-year quarterback and current No. 3 Mason Rudolph continues to be bandied about as a trade piece, considering he’s been inactive all season and could fetch a Day 3 pick.
There’s one name that popped up Wednesday though from Bleacher Report that raised some eyebrows as to who the Steelers “must consider” trading away as sellers. That player? Safety Terrell Edmunds.
According to Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey, the Steelers should explore moving the fifth-year safety for draft picks, considering his high level of play at the moment, as well as the fact that he’s on an expiring deal. Add in the fact that the Steelers already invested heavily into the future at the position with Minkah Fitzpatrick’s extension and Tansey believes it might be wise to move Edmunds.
“Pittsburgh already has $73 million invested in safety with Minkah Fitzpatrick, and it may be hard to justify spending so much money in one position,” Tansey writes. “The Steelers may be able to afford it because most of their star offensive players are on rookie deals, but they have to think a few years down the road when it comes to extending Edmunds.”
Tansey is wrong. Way, way wrong.
Edmunds, who was re-signed on a one-year deal for right around $2.5 million. According to Steelers Depot’s own Dave Bryan, the Steelers actually got a major bargain with Edmunds due to the type of contract he signed. Here’s Bryan from April 28 regarding Edmunds’ deal:
The contract that Edmunds signed is considered a four-year player qualifying contract. That type of veteran salary benefit can be offered to a player with at least four credited seasons whose contract with a team has expired after being on said team for four or more consecutive, uninterrupted league years prior to his contract expiring. The CBA states that such a player must have been on the team’s 90-man active/inactive list for said seasons (and every regular-season and postseason game).
A four-year player qualifying contract under this benefit is a one-year deal with a base salary of up to $1.35 million more than the minimum base salary for said player. A maximum signing bonus of $152,500 may also be given as part of that kind of qualifying contract. The contract also comes with a decreased salary cap charge benefit. Under such agreements, only the applicable minimum base salary of a second-year player (not the $1.35 million benefit) is charged against the salary cap. Obviously the signing bonus is also charged against the salary cap.
So, the minimum for Edmunds based on his credited years is $1.035 million, so the Steelers gave him $1.35 million more than that. They also gave him the maximum signing bonus allowed for such a contract, $152,500. The result of all this is Edmunds having a 2022 salary cap charge of just $1,187,500, which is minimum base, $1.035 million, plus his $152,500 signing bonus.
Essentially, the Steelers took advantage of the CBA, signed a starting safety for pennies on the dollar and are getting a massive return on investment through seven weeks from Edmunds, who is playing some of the best football of his career.
Trading him away makes absolutely no sense right now. He’s very comfortable playing next to Fitzpatrick, has taken on a leadership role defensively and has been one of the best defenders on the Steelers this season. Combining with Fitzpatrick, Edmunds has helped form a key piece of one of the best safety duos in football.
Extending him is the move, not dealing him for future picks.
Moving names like Claypool, Rudolph, and maybe even someone like a Mitch Trubisky or a Damontae Kazee makes sense, but attempting to formulate a thought process in any sense that says trade Edmunds right now is just silly. He’s a foundational piece of the defense right now. The Steelers took a flier on him immediately after the draft, and Edmunds bet on himself. Both have paid off in a major way for both parties.