Steelers’ Terrell Edmunds: ‘It’s My Contract Year Now’

Terrell Edmunds

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Terrell Edmunds of the Pittsburgh Steelers before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field on December 15, 2019.

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds had to have been disappointed when the organization declined to pick up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract he signed in 2018.

On Tuesday, speaking to the media for the first time this offseason, Edmunds revealed that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called him to inform him of the team’s decision, which came down in early May.

“He told me that this doesn’t mean business is over,” Edmunds said, indicating that the Steelers are still open to the possibility of signing him to a second contract after the 2021 season.

As such, Edmunds—the team’s first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft—has every reason to remain highly motivated.

“My emotions are it’s my contract year now,” he said. “Everything is on a whole new level…. Every game is like a job interview. You’ve got to bet on yourself, double down on yourself and put in the hard work.”

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‘I’d Love to Come Back’

Yet while Edmunds looks to have the opportunity to test unrestricted free agency earlier than he might have expected, he seemed to indicate that his first preference is to remain with the Steelers.

“Of course I’d love to come back to Steeler Nation,” Edmunds said after the first practice of mandatory minicamp at Heinz Field. “The[se] are the people that gave me the opportunity to come into the NFL and make all of my dreams come true. I’m definitely open to maybe next year we can make something happen.”

Meanwhile, he’s trying to stay focused on preparing to have the best possible season in 2021.

“Right now, I’ve just got to bet on myself. That’s what I’m doing, coming in, working hard every day and keeping my head on straight.”

Terrell Edmunds’ Star Still on the Rise?

The good news, both for Edmunds and the Steelers, is that the 24-year-old safety has been getting better every year.

As the 2020 campaign approached, most NFL observers viewed Edmunds as a decidedly average starting strong safety. But last year he had his best season to date, bolstering Pittsburgh’s defense with 68 tackles (46 solo), plus two interceptions, eight passes defensed and a sack. Tomlin has also expressed appreciation for Edmunds’ ability to stay healthy, noting that his young safety’s “best ability is [his] availability.”

Indeed Edmunds has started 43 games and appeared in 47 of a possible 48 regular season games since he was drafted No. 28 overall out of Virginia Tech. He will earn $1,938,789 in salary in 2021, with a salary cap number of $3,403,842.

Had the Steelers elected to pick his fifth-year option, it would have cost the team $6.573 million in 2022. The fact that that the Steelers did pick up the fifth-year option on starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick ($10.612 million), may have played a role in the decision to decline the Edmunds option, as that would have the Steelers committing $17.185 to (just) two safeties in 2022.

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