In just a few days, the legal tampering period will open in the NFL ahead of the start of the new league year on March 15, which coincides with the start of free agency.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, more than 20 players are set to hit unrestricted and restricted free agency, which will open up quite a few holes on the roster ahead of the 2023 season. While the Steelers still need to make some roster subtractions and restructure some big-money contracts to free up some cap space, the expectation is the Steelers won’t be that aggressive in free agency on the open market.
But, if they were to, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine believes that Buffalo Bills’ standout inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds would be the “dream signing” for the black and gold at a position of serious need on the roster.
“It’s obviously a fun angle that Tremaine Edmunds could play alongside brother Terrell Edmunds if the Steelers were to bring him back and sign his younger brother. But this isn’t just about a family reunion every Sunday afternoon. This is about the Steelers finally finding the ultra-athletic inside linebacker they’ve been looking for,” Ballentine writes regarding Edmunds being the Steelers’ dream signing in a piece highlighting one signing for each team Thursday. “Whether it was trading up to draft Devin Bush Jr. in the top 10 or signing Myles Jack in free agency, Pittsburgh has tried to find a top-flight off-ball linebacker.
“Tremaine Edmunds is ostensibly looking for a place where he can get paid and continue to ascend. He’s still only 24 years old despite completing five seasons in the league. He has the sideline-to-sideline speed to run down plays all over the field,” Ballentine added. “He’s had over 100 combined tackles every year and made huge strides as a coverage linebacker. He limited opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 69.9 when targeted in 2022. Plugging him in alongside Jack would give the Steelers an injection of youth and flexibility to take the next step in 2023.”
Make no mistake about it: Tremaine Edmunds is a dream signing for the Steelers. He’s still extremely young (24 years old) despite having significant experience in the NFL (4,451 career snaps). He would fill a significant need for the Steelers for many years to come and could finally be the answer the Steelers have been looking for at the position since Ryan Shazier’s tragic injury in 2017.
Add in the fact that the Steelers sent a large contingent to Virginia Tech’s Pro Day in 2018 to see Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds, the dot-connecting with the Bills’ former linebacker is pretty darn obvious. That doesn’t even mention the fact that the Steelers like to utilize the sibling pipeline on the roster with the Watts, Heywards and Edmunds’ (Terrell and Trey) in the past.
But, all those positives of Edmunds, including his age and experience, will likely price himself outside of the Steelers’ comfort zone when it comes to spending on the inside linebacker position. Pittsburgh will already be paying Myles Jack $8 million in 2023 with an $11.250 million cap hit. Edmunds will likely come in around $18-20 million per year in a new deal on the open market.
That feels a bit rich for the Steelers overall.
While he certainly is a dream signing and would answer a number of problems defensively at the inside linebacker position, it’s a dream signing for a reason. It’s unlikely to be a reality.
Instead, the Steelers will likely look elsewhere at the position at guys like Philadelphia’s T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White, Cincinnati’s Germaine Pratt, Tennessee’s David Long Jr., Detroit’s Jarrad Davis, Cleveland’s Anthony Walker Jr., Dallas’ Leighton Vander Esch, New York’s Quincy Williams, Los Angeles’ Drue Tranquill or even Indianapolis’ Bobby Okereke on the open market at a smaller price tag than Edmunds, who seems to be the prize on the open market at the position.