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With his option declined, Terrell Edmunds is out to prove his worth in 2021

The Pittsburgh Steelers declined Terrell Edmunds’ 5th year option, and now the safety will have to prove his worth heading into free agency.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

There are times when you feel for players like Terrell Edmunds. Edmunds, who most had projected as a Day 2 draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, had no choice in the Steelers taking him in the first round.

Fans have expectations for first round picks, and rightfully so, and often times Edmunds’ game has left a lot to be desired. This is one of the main reasons why it wasn’t a slam dunk the Steelers pick up Edmunds’ 5th year option this offseason. Once the deadline came and went, Edmunds joined just Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns as the only players to have their options declined since the option came into existence.

In case you didn’t know, fans should understand there was more to this decision than just Edmunds’ on field performance. When the team traded with the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick, they were then in control of his 5th year option as well. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the price of the option varies depending on the success of the player. In this case, Fitzpatrick’s option was more expensive than Edmunds’. To complicate matters, the first ever drop in the NFL’s salary cap made this a very difficult decision, and the Steelers chose Fitzpatrick’s option over Edmunds.

How did Edmunds find out about the team not picking up his option? Head coach Mike Tomlin called him personally and told him.

“Coach (Mike) Tomlin called me personally and told me they weren’t going to pick up my fifth-year option this year,” Edmunds told reporters during mandatory minicamp. “He told me that doesn’t mean business is over, but just stay motivated and come out and do what I can.”

There is no reason the Steelers can’t sign Edmunds after the season. If he plays well, and the two sides agree on the terms of a contract, they will have exclusive negotiating rights with the former Virginia Tech safety until the new league year begins.

As for Edmunds, he isn’t ruling out the possibility of a return to the team who drafted him in the first round.

“I would love to come back to Steelers Nation. They are the people that gave me the opportunity to come into the NFL, made all of my dreams come true. It is still open. Maybe next year we can make something happen. I am just coming in every day, working hard every day, keeping my head on straight, and give 100 percent every game. Everything is on a whole new level. You have to bet on yourself, double down on yourself and just do hard work.”

While that sounds great, you have to understand the situation from a player’s perspective. Certainly, there is some loyalty to the team who drafted them, but they also are likely to want to test the open market and see what their worth might be to other organizations.

In the meantime, Edmunds is focused on having his best season with the Steelers in 2021, and he believes the team has had a great offseason so far with work in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp.

“I think it was good we all came together,” said Edmunds. “We lost some guys. Just to have new guys in those roles feel comfortable with the calls and adjustments, that is a big thing for our chemistry.

“Right now, we are keeping everything the same. It worked last year. Everyone was in good position. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Minkah (Fitzpatrick) said that the other day and we want to stick to that.”

If Edmunds has been anything, it has been reliable. If he is able to take that durability and combine it with better ball skills, he could very well price himself out of Pittsburgh when the 2021 season comes to a close. The Steelers hope he is a big contributor this season, but would also realize it could mean them losing a former first round pick.

That was the gamble the organization took when they chose to decline Terrell Edmunds’ 5th year option.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2021 regular season.