The Steelers not picking up the fifth-year option for starting strong safety Terrell Edmunds was more about the salary cap implications of such a move than a sign that the team is dissatisfied with his play, general manager Kevin Colbert said on Thursday.
Appearing on The Cook and Joe Show on 93.7 The Fan on Thursday, Colbert said that the team has faith in Edmunds’ abilities.
“Terrell has done some good things,” Colbert said. “Last year was probably his best season, prior to the shoulder injury, which limited him, really the last three games that he was active for. … We didn’t feel good about not tendering him, but from a cap standpoint, we had to be realistic about what we’d be able to handle in a given year.”
The 2022 salary cap remains a fraught projection, as the cap declined significantly from 2020 to 2021 after the pandemic-impacted season reduced league revenues, and it’s not clear exactly how much they will rebound at this point.
But the Steelers have the second-least amount of salary committed for the 2022 season in the NFL, even after picking up the fifth-year option of fellow starting safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The Steelers will have significant other contracts that will need addressed between now and the 2022 season, though. Starters David DeCastro, Eric Ebron, Joe Haden, Chukwuma Okorafor, Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.J. Watt are all entering the final seasons of their contracts and set to become free agents.
“Not a tough decision to exercise the option on Minkah, but to not do it for Terrell, it was really all based on salary cap and not his performance, because we think last year was his best year,” Colbert said.
But he did say that it’s possible the team will reach an extension with Edmunds outside the fifth-year option, which would have added one season to his contract at a guaranteed $6.753 million.
“That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be able to keep Terrell if we decide to sign him next year,” Colbert said. “It’s not like we said he wouldn’t be back, it’s just that we didn’t want to exercise both options at this point.”
Edmunds has started 43 of a possible 48 games for the Steelers since 2018. He’s recorded 251 tackles over his three seasons, along with three interceptions and 15 passes defensed. Pro Football Focus rated him as the No. 22 safety in the NFL in 2020.