PITTSBURGH -- Terrell Edmunds isn't guaranteed to be with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022, but chances are it still happens.
After the Steelers decided not to exercise Edmunds' fifth-year option, they opened the door to an uncertain future at safety. The three-year starter will enter the final year of his rookie deal with uncertainty and appears hungry to earn what wasn't given to him.
It doesn't mean Edmunds is gone after 2021, though. The Steelers just didn't guarantee anything.
If Pittsburgh picked up Edmunds' option, they would've paid him $6.75 million in 2022. A good number for a starting safety, but maybe not the expectation the team was looking to give him moving forward.
In 2021, only Rayshawn Jenkins and John Johnson signed free agent deals with more annual money than $6.75 million. The Steelers, who will have a much higher salary cap to work with next offseason, might feel Edmunds is worth that number - but might feel it's easier to work out a long-term deal without it being their floor.
It's hard to imagine the Steelers have invested the last three, and what will be four, years with Edmunds as their starter only to move on without a backup plan. Antoine Brooks Jr. and Tre Norwood aren't the answer. At least that we know of. And it's hard to believe the Steelers feel differently.
Edmunds is a player who's certainly in the running for an extension next offseason, but maybe at a lesser value. The Steelers could stick near the $6.75 million mark, but with more years tacked on, it'll be easier to save money on their end and avoid overpaying a player who has yet to make a Pro Bowl.
Edmunds continues to improve each season. He'll probably have an even better year in 2021 than he did in 2020. The Steelers know this, and expect this.
Don't think Edmunds is gone after the season. Chances are he's pretty high on their list of extensions next spring. And it could be around the number they just declined with his fifth-year option.