Bryan: Did The Steelers Really Not Want SS Terrell Edmunds Back?

There’s no need to write a lede for this post because either you have interest in potentially how former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds landed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal with a reported base value of $2 million, or you don’t. With that sorry post intro now out of the way, let’s get after it with a little bit of facts and a lot of speculation on this Sunday.

For starters, more information has now emerged Sunday morning concerning the details surrounding the one-year, $2 million contract that Edmunds decided to agree to with the Eagles. According to details passed along on Sunday morning by Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Edmunds’ deal has a max value of $2.85 million that he can earn in 2023 with $850,000 of that coming via team improvement/individual incentives.

Something very important concerning Edmunds’ deal is the fact that $600,000 is apparently fully guaranteed with $250,000 of that being his signing bonus along with $350,000 of his scheduled 2023 base salary of $1.08 million.

Now, for Edmunds to earn that full $2.85 million in 2023, he’ll need to be active for all 17 regular season games in addition to hitting those other team/individual incentives, which are not fully known at the time of this post. The base value and max value have been confirmed to me by former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports.

So, now that we know the base value and max value of Edmunds’ deal, surely the Steelers could have matched it, right? After all, it looks like Edmunds’ 2023 salary cap charge will be just $1,921,177 as the rest of his deal is considered NLTBE (not-likely-to-be-earned) and thus does not figure into that amount.

If the Steelers indeed had the ability to match the Edmunds’ deal as it is framed thus far, why didn’t they? Well, I speculate that they didn’t want to match the $600,000 fully guaranteed amount for starters. On top of that, the Steelers have a history of not really liking to do contracts that include incentives and especially when it comes to lower-value deals.

So, did the Steelers offer Edmunds a somewhat competing offer to the one he ultimately agreed to with the Eagles? I speculate that they did. In fact, I truly believe that the Steelers offered Edmunds another Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract like the one he agreed to last offseason.

A Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract under this specific CBA benefit is a one-year deal with a base salary of up to $1.35 million more than the minimum base salary for the said player. A maximum signing bonus of $152,500 for 2023 may also be given as part of that kind of qualifying contract. The contract also comes with a decreased salary cap charge benefit. In short, and as outlined several weeks ago, such a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract in 2023 for Edmunds would have totaled out at $2.5825 million. His total guaranteed amount likely would have been just the $152,500 signing bonus and his 2023 cap charge would have been just $1.2325 million because of $1.35 million being considered a benefit.

There is yet another reason to speculate that Edmunds did indeed receive another Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract from the Steelers and that one revolves around the team agreeing to a reported one-year contract with tight end Zach Gentry just one day after their former safety agreed to terms with the Eagles. How does that play into my speculation? Well, because Edmunds and Gentry were really the only two players worthy of receiving a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract from the Steelers this offseason.

Now, the Steelers could have signed both Edmunds and Gentry each to a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract, but had they done so, the full $1.35 million CBA benefit amount that is allowed in such deals would have needed to have been split somehow between the two players unless one player received all of it. Assuming Edmunds turned down a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract from the Steelers, that likely allowed Gentry to receive the full $1.35 million amount in his offer.

The Edmunds/Gentry speculation angle part of this post can’t hold any water until we find out the full details related to the tight end’s new deal and that might not happen until the middle of this coming week. Should, however, Gentry’s deal wind up indeed being a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract, it will somewhat help confirm my assumption that Edmunds turned down that offer.

There is yet another angle to consider when it comes to Edmunds’ decision to sign with the Eagles and that one revolves around the former first-round draft pick possibly being disgruntled to some degree with the fact that fellow safety Damontae Kazee reportedly agreed to sign a two-year, $6 million contract to return to the Steelers in 2023. That deal will reportedly pay Kazee $3 million in 2023, which obviously would be slightly more than the $2.5825 million offer I truly believe that Edmunds received. Kazee also reportedly received $1.75 million fully guaranteed in his deal while Edmunds, at least per my speculation, probably received just a fully guaranteed amount of $152,500 in his offer.

So, what are we left with here to consider? Well, assuming my speculation winds up being correct, and for the record, we might never truly know if it fully is or not, Edmunds chose $600,000 fully guaranteed to possibly earn $2.85 million in 2023 with the Eagles as opposed to possibly taking $152,500 fully guaranteed from the Steelers with the possibility of earning a max of $2.5825 million in 2023.

In closing, I think the Steelers would have liked to have had Edmunds back in 2023, but only at their price, total value, and structure. My speculation, however, can only be strengthened at this point should Gentry’s deal indeed turns out to be a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract. Once again, this is just me reading the tea leaves of what we do know at this point. If you decided to read all the way through this post, thank you.

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