The Pittsburgh Steelers officially announced the return of safety Terrell Edmunds on Monday morning. Edmunds agreeing to a one-year contract with the Steelers valued around 2.5 million. The return of Edmunds helped fill one of the two large remaining holes on the Steelers roster.
General manger Kevin Colbert was asked on Monday during the Steelers pre-draft press conference how they were able to come to terms with Edmunds, and what that process looked like as they went multiple weeks without being able to come to a new contract.
“We were open and honest with Terrell [Edmunds] throughout the whole process as he was with us. You know, we were able to stay connected, and see where it all went. We didn’t know where the market would be, and he didn’t. We always encourage our free agents ‘look it’s going to better serve you to go out and find out what else is there’. And that’s part of the decision making, understand that we’re doing the same thing on our side. And fortunately he’s coming back to us and he gives us that 22nd starter so to speak.”
Now Colbert referenced the 22nd starter comment, because earlier in the off-season, during the owners meetings Colbert had said the Steelers felt like they had a capable NFL starter at every position except one. Edmunds returning fills that last hole hole in their mind. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are just going to be content with Edmunds as a starter, or any position for that matter according to Colbert.
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“And when we say that I want to emphasize we’re not saying we’re ‘good enough’. We’re saying we have NFL veteran starters at each position. And the draft process will provide great competition for that. It isn’t like any of these young men we draft will come and be ordained a starter,” Colbert continued. “I know coach doesn’t do that ordinarily, but when you don’t have great depth or even what you believe to be a starter, sometimes those guys have to play a little quicker then possible or then desirable and we like to avoid that.”
It sounds like the Steelers believe they aren’t going to be forced to draft a player because they feel like he’s going to need to step in and become a day one starter. Last year seemed to be the only exception throughout the Tomlin and Colbert tenure because they were so strapped for salary cap at the beginning of the off-season they were barely able to sign NFL caliber players. Right off the bat Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Dan Moore Jr, and Kendrick Green were thrust into the starting lineup. And Moore was forced into starting action because Zach Banner wasn’t ready to go, and Freiermuth was still considered the #2 tight end to open the season before over taking Eric Ebron. Ebron was eventually hurt and lost for the season, but by that point Freiermuth had already started to take snaps from him.
Outside of Freiermuth, and Harris the results weren’t always pretty. So it’s understandable why the Steelers usually approach the draft with the theory that they’re going to give these rookies time to grow before throwing them into the fire. Something else to note was that Colbert wasn’t discarding any position even if they signed a player in free agency from that position group.
“Anything we did in free agency is not going to preclude us from drafting a player at that position.”
The Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky, and Edmunds. But quarterback, and safety could still be top priority in the first round depending on who is available when it’s their turn to draft.