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The state of the Pittsburgh Steelers Safety position

Breaking down every Steelers position group before we hit free agency.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and NFL for that matter, have officially hit the offseason. With a month before contracts officially expire, and the new league year begins, the Steelers will need to start game planning their future.

In this series we will look at every position group of the Pittsburgh Steelers and what the team will do with the players that were on the 2021 roster, and how they should rebuild the spots heading into the 2022 season!

Today we breakdown the Steelers’ safety position. A spot dominated by Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds the last 3 seasons. In 2022 they will both be looking for a contract. Can the Steelers retain Edmunds before free agency, and can they come to terms with Fitzpatrick before Week 1? All that and more below...

The 2021 Roster

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Minkah Fitzpatrick (1-Year $10.61 Million)
Terrell Edmunds (UFA)
Tre Norwood (3-Years $848K)
Karl Joseph (UFA)
Miles Killebrew (UFA)

The Pittsburgh Steelers received high quality safety play in 2021. Terrell Edmunds had his best season to date as a member of the Steelers, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, while having to adjust his game, had another stellar campaign setting the Steelers’ record for tackles in a season by a defensive back. Sure, the big-time plays were lacking from this position group, but because of the weaknesses of this defense they were asked to do things differently than just play ball hawk.

Seventh round pick Tre Norwood was a very pleasant surprise for the team in 2021. A seventh rounder to have the impact he did was very needed at the position. While basically just playing the dime back position, Norwood was able to put together a nice rookie campaign and should see a bigger role in 2022. Karl Joseph never really got going with the Steelers, this despite being one of Mike Tomlin‘s favorite players to talk about when he was on opposing teams the last few years. Finally, Miles Killebrew was a very good special teamer and had a couple decent snaps on defiance whenever he got the opportunity. All in all, I was quite pleased by the level of safety play this past season.

Should they look to add a player

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

This all comes down to whether or not the Steelers are able to re-sign their own players. If the team can bring back Terrell Edmunds and their other depth pieces, the team doesn’t need to worry about adding more players to the position. Edmonds’ development has been steady and on an upward trajectory ever since he got into the league. Once thought to be a liability, Edmonds is a steady presence at strong safety and has shown the ability to a erase tight ends from games.

However, if the team cannot bring back Edmonds, I would look to the free-agent market for the next starter. While a rookie could thrive playing beside Minkah Fitzpatrick, I would hesitate to thrust a youngster into the lineup. I think a veteran presence is necessary on the back end, and exactly what this team needs moving forward. Still, the ideal situation is bringing back Edmunds who has gotten better year by year. Sure, he’s not winning Defensive Player of the Year awards, but he is still above average at his position and has a firm grip of the playbook and chemistry on the defense.

How should the group look in 2022

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I hope the Steelers are able to bring back Terrell Edmunds on a new contract within this next month, and get Minkah Fitzpatrick‘s mega-extension done at some point during training camp, much like how T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward received their deals the previous two years. Safety is one of the most solid position groups on this team. The Steelers shouldn’t be messing around with the formula unless they are forced to move on from their own players. Ideally, they are all back and playing at a high level again next year. If the organization can get the front seven better, it would mean the safeties are able to chase turnovers and not worry about tackling running backs 15 yards down field.

But what do you think? What should the Steelers Safety position look like at the start of the 2022 season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Check out the other position previews below: