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4 reasons why the Steelers were the best choice for Terrell Edmunds

The Steelers strong safety chose to return to Pittsburgh on a one-year deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Of all the positions on the Steelers roster for the 2022 NFL season, strong safety was the one left in limbo for the longest throughout free agency. With general manager Kevin Colbert openly admitting the Steelers needed to address having a starter at the position, it almost looked as if the Steelers were going to enter the 2022 NFL draft with a glaring need. Instead, less than a week before the draft kicked off, the Steelers re-signed Terrell Edmunds, their starting strong safety for the last four seasons.

It was a somewhat unusual free agency period when it came to safeties in the NFL. Admittedly, I didn’t follow that much of what was going on around the league and tried to stay focused on what was happening with the Steelers. But the answer to that question was “nothing” up until the end of April when it came to the starting strong safety.

The big name some tossed around for the Steelers was Tyrann Mathieu formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs. While some believed the Steelers were in the running to land Mathieu, there wasn’t any real sense of how things were going to play out. With a report that Mathieu was waiting until after the draft in order to sign, this put the Steelers and what they wanted to do in an interesting situation. Additionally, it probably affected Terrell Edmunds and his market as well.

Going strictly on my own sense of things, I believe the Steelers wanted to nail down the strong safety position before the draft. While Edmunds might have had a better market following the draft, the opportunity to return to Pittsburgh might not have been there. Therefore, Edmunds returned to Pittsburgh while he still had the chance.

The following are four reasons why I believe it was a wise move for Edmunds to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While it’s easy to say why the Steelers could have chosen Edmunds, he also had to choose the Steelers. As you will see, these four ideas grow on each other, hence why they were given in the order they were.


Edmunds knows the Steelers defensive system. Despite having a new defensive coordinator in Teryl Austin, it’s still the same secondary coach Edmunds played for since 2019 and the chances of there being major changes in the secondary are probably small. In addition, Edmunds teammate at free safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, will remain the same and the two have been playing together for almost three full seasons. If Edmunds is looking to have the most success, the familiarity in Pittsburgh has to be a big factor.

A better chance to start

In order for Edmunds to make himself a more valuable player in the eyes of the NFL, it’s very important to be a starter. Particularly at safety, it is a position where players rarely leave the field as they don’t rotate in and out like other places on the defense. Unless he would only be utilized in sub packages, starting the game is almost the only way to get playing time. Being the four-year incumbent as well as the familiarity issue, somebody else grabbing the starting job would be much more difficult on the Steelers versus Edmunds being the new player on another team and having to overtake the competition.

An earlier chance to hit it big

If the goal for Edmunds is to get as big a contract as possible, sometimes having that contract be right now isn’t the easiest path. Based on the market, perhaps 2022 was not the best offseason for Edmunds to cash in. But if he’s looking to do it as soon as possible, being a free agent for 2023 would be the ultimate goal. We’ve already addressed the need to be a starter. What Edmunds really needs to do is make as much as money as possible in 2022 and hit the free-agent market again next year. The Steelers gave him the best chance to do that as you will see in the next category.

The most bang for their buck

All three other categories culminate here. Also, there is going to be a lot of speculation to exactly how everything went down with Terrell Edmunds, but it is based on what we actually do know. It appears as if Terrell Edmunds did not get the long-term offers he was hoping to get. If there was a specific number in mind for what he wanted each year for the length of a contract, it appears it wasn’t in the cards at this time. If Edmunds was not going to be getting what he felt he could make, the next best thing would be to make as much money as possible in 2022 then try again next year. The place to make the most money, based on the salary cap, was with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If teams were wanting to keep the salary cap hit low for Edmunds, chances are he was looking at signing for more than one season or for a Veteran Salary Benefit Contract. This contract is for only one year and can be outlined with what the Steelers paid Genard Avery. Avery will receive a salary in 2022 of $1.1875 million including a signing bonus but will only count on the salary cap for the Steelers at $1.0475 million. This might have been what Edmunds was looking at with other clubs if he was only going to sign for one year. If they paid him more, every dollar would have been a straight salary cap hit for 2022.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they could give Edmunds a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract in which he could be paid as much as $2.5 million, including signing bonus, for one season yet only cost $1.1875 million on the salary cap. So of all the teams who could have offered Terrell Edmunds a one-year deal in which there was less money counting on the salary cap than what he was being paid, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who could offer the most based on Edmunds being on the roster every game the previous four seasons. Chances are other teams wanted to give him less money on a one-year deal or wanted multiple years to keep the 2022 salary cap hit lower.

When factoring in these four things, it made the most sense for Terrell Edmunds to return to the Steelers if he was not going to get a lucrative deal somewhere else. Even if there was a team who was willing to pay Edmunds a little more than the $2.5 million he would make this season, was it enough of a payout to have to learn a new system and earn a starting job?

Even though it’s not guaranteed Edmunds will be the starter for the Steelers, he definitely has the inside track. Putting himself in the best scenario for a single season, Edmunds appears to be betting on himself for 2022 in order to maximize his value for 2023 and beyond.