One-year contracts following a rookie deal signed with a player’s original team often aren’t a good sign, and frequently indicate an impending parting of the ways. Whether that’s on a traditional one-year deal or a franchise or transition tag, we see it played out frequently, even in Pittsburgh, as with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bud Dupree in recent years.
Safety Terrell Edmunds is yet another example. A first-round pick in 2018, he explored the open market in 2022 after the Steelers passed on his fifth-year option, ultimately accepting a one-year, four-year-veteran qualifying contract that paid him just north of $2.5 million on the year with a reduced cap hit for the team. So what’s next for him, and for the Steelers?
“I’m going to talk to them and go from there and take it slow”, the five-year veteran recently told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of his approach to this offseason. “I’ve been through the process before. I really understand everything and we’ll take it slow and figure out what’s next”.
Edmunds did not re-sign with the Steelers until shortly before the NFL Draft, more than a month after he first hit the open market. He later told reporters that he fielded other offers, even mentioning that he was leaning toward taking a two- or three-year deal before the focus shifted to one-year options.
“I was willing to wait it out, then it was a turning point where it was more so, what was I waiting for? Just go make a decision”, he added at a later time. Perhaps the pressure of the draft being just around the corner (not just for the Steelers, but for any other team he might have signed with), helped spur a decision as well.
For half a decade now, though, Pittsburgh is the only place he’s ever known as a professional football player. “This is home base”, he described it to Dulac. “They gave me the opportunity to do what I love, they gave me the opportunity to be an NFL player, and I can’t say thank you enough to that. If they do offer me another deal, of course I’ll definitely try to make things work and go from there”.
While he did not have the best statistical season of his career, with just 70 tackles and zero interceptions along with five passes defensed, he did probably play the most consistent season of his career. He has generally improved year over year, and he likely helped strengthen the coaching staff’s belief this year that they can win with him.
But as always, it takes two parties to get a deal done. Maybe the market will be stronger for him this year than it was a year ago. Maybe they will have to make a decision between re-signing him and another safety, Damontae Kazee, who is also a free agent. But if I were to make a guess right now, I would say that he will probably be back. Perhaps both of them will be.