PITTSBURGH — A call from Mike Tomlin changed the outlook of the 2021 offseason for Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds.
Tomlin personally called Edmunds earlier this offseason to let him know that the Steelers were not picking up his fifth-year option for the 2022 season.
“Coach Tomlin, he called me personally,” Edmunds said before Steelers Minicamp on Tuesday. “He just told me that they weren’t gonna pick on my fifth-year option this year. He told me that doesn’t mean that business is over, but just to stay motivated and come in and do what I can.”
That means that, at least for now, for the first time in Edmunds’ NFL career, he’s entering a contract year, and for the three-year starter, that means a rededication to the things that have served him well so far.
“This is my contract year now, so everything is on a whole new level,” Edmunds said. “Every game is like an interview, so now you’ve got to bet on yourself, you’ve got to double down on yourself and just put in the hard work.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made it clear that choosing not to retain Edmunds was more about the salary cap and the mandatory cap hit assigned by the fifth-year bonus system than Edmunds’ performance.
The Steelers should have plenty of cap space come 2022, so it’s possible that Edmunds could return to Pittsburgh, and you can count fellow starting safety Minkah Fitzpatrick among that hopes it happens.
Fitzpatrick said during OTAs that he wished the Steelers had picked up Edmunds’ option and that the two have built a nice chemistry together through two seasons in Pittsburgh, something Edmunds echoed on Tuesday.
“I feel like we’re growing each year,” Edmunds said. “Every year, we’ve been getting better together. Each year, we’ve been pushing each other to get better and it’s just that chemistry part of everything just I know what he’s going to do just by looking at him so we just catch eye contact sometimes and we just already know what each other is going to do. So I think that’s a big part and that’s that’s helping both of us out making us both go out there and make plays.”
Fitzpatrick was also drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, taken 17 picks ahead of Edmunds by the Miami Dolphins before coming to Pittsburgh in a mid-season trade in 2019.
The Steelers did pick up Fitzpatrick’s option for 2022, so he’ll be back after this season, with our without his running mate.
“We’re going to go out this season and play our best,” Fitzpatrick said.