NFL first round draft picks are products of hope. Picking someone in the first round means you think he’s in the top 5% of eligible rookies. Yet, each team and every first round draft pick eventually reach a cross roads – either the player is living up to the hope the team invested in him (and wants to stay) and gets a second contract or he’s gone.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers and Terrell Edmunds arrived that cross roads last year until they didn’t.
Terrell Edmunds reached free agency. The Steelers either didn’t make him an offer or made one that Edmunds thought he could better on the free market. He found no takers. He took a “Prove It” deal to stay in Pittsburgh. Now he’s a free agent again and we’ll look at what should happen.
Capsule Profile of Terrell Edmunds’ Career with the Steelers
The Steelers shocked everyone when they drafted Terrell Edmunds in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Few had Edmunds projected as a first round pick, and no one had the Steelers taking him.
- Yet Edmunds quickly established himself as the Steelers starting strong safety and he’s remained there ever since.
In five years in the NFL Terrell Edmunds has only missed 3 games and started in 75 of the 79 of those contests.
The Case for the Steelers Resigning Terrell Edmunds
After five years, the Pittsburgh Steelers know what they have in Terrell Edmunds: A durable, reliable steady player who can be a stabilizing influence on the field for the entire defense. That much was evident in 2022 when the Steelers, sans T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, upset Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Edmunds quarterbacked the defense, getting players lined up correctly and making adjustments.
Moreover, although Edmunds (again) proved his reliably on his one year deal, nothing in his performance suggests that rest of the NFL is going to throw money at him.
The Steelers should be able to sign him to an affordable, long-term deal that’s a win-win for all involved.
The Case Against the Steelers Resigning Terrell Edmunds
Starting 75 out of 79 might sound good but here are two numbers that do not: 5 and 5. That’s five interceptions on and 5 sacks.
In other words, Edmunds averages 2 splash plays per year. Heck, Will Allen had 4 sacks in his final year in Pittsburgh and he was 33. Damontae Kazee only appeared in 9 games this season and had 2 interceptions.
Last spring the Steelers had salary cap space to spare, yet had no interest in using a meaningful portion of that space to resign Terrell Edmunds. This year they don’t have that luxury and there’s no reason to make room for Edmunds.
Curtain’s Call on the Steelers and Terrell Edmunds
How much does or should a player’s draft position impact the perception of his development?
With Terrell Edmunds, this isn’t so abstract. Had he been, say, a third round pick fans at least would have been screaming for him to get a second contract last spring. But because he was a first round pick, his value was perceived differently.
But perhaps that door swings both ways. Perhaps last spring Edmunds overvalued his services based on his draft pedigree. It is impossible to be sure.
One thing is certain. Terrell Edmunds has never been and will likely never bit a super star for the Steelers defense. But he’s always been a solid player who improves year-on-year. The Steelers would be wise to keep him in Pittsburgh, and I suspect they will.
Follow Steelers free agency. Visit our Steelers 2023 Free Agent tracker or click here for all Steelers 2023 free agent focus articles.