Terrell Edmunds

Steelers Sign Rookie Terrell Edmunds

It’s a done deal. The Steelers have signed first-round pickTerrell Edmunds, according to Ed Bouchette of 93.7 FM (on Twitter).

Per the terms of his slot at No. 28 overall, Edmunds will earn roughly $10.8MM over the course of his four-year deal. With Edmunds signed, there are now just six unsigned 2018 draft picks left in the NFL.

Edmunds played multiple positions at Virginia Tech and the Steelers plan on taking advantage of his versatility at the pro level. The Steelers will use him at strong safety, but he’ll also have some deep-middle responsibilities to help support Morgan Burnett.

Here’s the full rundown of the Steelers’ 2018 draft class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Only Seven Unsigned NFL Draft Picks Remain

The overwhelming majority of this year’s NFL draft picks have signed their rookies deals. As training camp gets started, only the following seven players are without contracts:

For Mayfield, Darnold, Ward, Allen, and Smith, the holdup is reportedly tied to offset languagePlayers with offset language who are cut before the end of their rookie contract have the remaining guaranteed money reduced by whatever they earns elsewhere. Without offset language, players get to double dip. Top 10 picks expect to complete their rookie contracts, but it’s an important issue for agents nonetheless. There’s no sign of real acrimony between any of the Top 10 picks and their respective teams, though Smith has been staying away from the Bears.

In Edmunds’ case, it’s likely that his agent is haggling over guarantees in the fourth year of his rookie contract. First-rounders selected near the end of the first round often don’t get the entirety of their fourth season base salary guaranteed, but that’s an area where agents can press for a bit extra in talks. Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny took less in fourth-year guarantees than last year’s No. 27 overall pick, talks dragged for several other players near the back end of the round. Others, such as Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan have signed, but the Virginia Tech product is still in limbo.

Pettis is believed to be in line for a significant role this season, so it would behoove the Niners to get a deal done sooner rather than later.

AFC North Rumors: Steelers, Ravens, Browns

With Le’Veon Bell demanding $17MM per year, less than three weeks could remain for Steelers fans to view the All-Pro running back as a long-term asset. Following the July 16 franchise tag deadline, Bell could be headed toward rental status this season and 2019 free agency. The Steelers are not about to authorize a $17MM-AAV deal for Bell, Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, adding that the only chance of an extension being hammered out is if Bell comes off that price. Judging by the lack of communication between the parties since their pre-draft re-up talks, Zeise notes it’s clear the Steelers are going to hold their line. Bell is optimistic about a deal, but Zeise notes he appears to be the only one. The Steelers may not be able to replace Bell, but the gap between he and either James Conner (or a future successor) may not translate to Pittsburgh paying its running back what he wants. Bell’s $17MM-per-year price is more than twice what current running back salary leader Devonta Freeman makes.

Here’s the latest from Pittsburgh and other AFC North cities.

  • The Steelers do not believe Morgan Burnett is the same player he was at his Packers apex, and they don’t plan on asking him to perform like it, according to Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Keith Butler is planning for the 29-year-old safety to assume some of the responsibility Ryan Shazier used to, working as a quality run-stopper and patrolling the middle of the field on passing downs. However, the plan is for Burnett to play strong safety and for the likes of Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds to have deep-middle responsibilities at free safety, per Benz. Edmunds played a hybrid-type role late in his Virginia Tech career, which would appear to overlap with Burnett’s job description, but it appears the Steelers are confident the first-rounder will be able to grow into a true free safety.
  • It’s going to take a sizable Browns improvement for Hue Jackson to keep his job, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com said (video link), adding that the third-year HC knows this. Cabot envisions a major Browns step forward this season and does expect Jackson, 1-31 Cleveland record notwithstanding, to keep his job for 2019. She estimates six wins may be enough to convince John Dorsey to retain Jackson. The Browns have won six games just once in the past 10 years.
  • The Ravens have moved 2016 second-round pick Kamalei Correa around a bit since he entered the league. Beginning his career at outside linebacker, the Boise State product was shuttled to an inside spot in 2017. However, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun notes Correa’s been moved back to the outside this offseason. Correa recorded 19 sacks during his final two college seasons but has yet to register one as a pro. He’ll be in the mix as one of Terrell Suggs‘ supporting-casters this year, it appears.

Latest On Unsigned First-Round Picks

Only six percent of 2018 NFL draft picks remain unsigned, and 71% (12-of-17) of those contract-less selections are first-rounders. For a certain slice of those unsigned first-round picks, especially those selected near the back end of Day 1, Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny‘s contract is playing a role in negotiations, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains.

While the three players selected at pick Nos. 23-25 (Patriots offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore, and Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst) each garnered significant fourth season base salary guarantees, Penny — who was chosen with the 27th overall pick — actually saw his fourth season salary guarantee percentage decrease when compared to 2017’s No. 27 selection, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, per Florio.

The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement implemented slotted rookie contracts which make negotiations a breeze, but there’s a still a bit of wiggle room. First-rounders selected near the end of the first round won’t often get the entirety of their fourth season base salary guaranteed, but that’s an area where agents can press for a bit extra in talks. Penny’s representatives, clearly, didn’t do so, which could now lead other teams with unsigned first-round picks to withhold guarantees.

Here are the unsigned first-round picks chosen after No. 20 overall:

Overall, the amount of fourth season guarantees shouldn’t stand in the way of getting deals for the above players done, as the dollar amounts in question are in the thousands, not millions. But the lack of signed contracts does speak to the small area of available negotiation still left in rookie pacts, and is something to watch as the offseason progresses.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Okorafor, Bengals

Rumored to be a potential option to succeed Joe Thomas at left tackle, Joel Bitonio‘s heard an important voice that doesn’t believe this is a good idea. As a result, the Browns‘ post-Thomas battle is likely to come down to third-year player Shon Coleman, last season’s full-time right tackle, second-round pick Austin Corbett and possibly former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson.

He is an elite guard, one of the top 4-5 in the league,” Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie said of Bitonio, via Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. “You put him at tackle and he becomes … what … just a tackle.”

Although Corbett succeeded Bitonio as Nevada’s left tackle and started for four years, he’s a bit behind Coleman for the job at present, Wylie said. The Browns, though, also signed Robinson this week and view him as a reclamation project. Not unlike other teams who have taken chances on underwhelming high draft picks, the Browns believe Robinson has “freakish” athletic ability and believe with proper coaching he can grow into a solid blocker, Pluto notes. In 395 snaps with the Lions last season, the former Auburn standout graded as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst full-time tackle.

Here’s the latest from some of the Browns’ top rivals.

  • The Bengals are set on the left side of their offensive line, with Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling and Billy Price entrenched as starters. With 2015 high draft picks Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, along with Giants castoff Bobby Hart, involved in the right tackle competition, Cincinnati perhaps has less certainty about who will play right guard. Former UDFAs Trey Hopkins and Alex Redmond, and 2016 fifth-rounder Christian Westerman, are going to vie for that spot, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes. PFF’s No. 41 tackle in 2017, Hopkins is the incumbent, playing 707 snaps last season and starting 12 games.
  • Continuing this afternoon’s theme of AFC North offensive lines, the Steelers appear to be close to slotting Chukwuma Okorafor as the swing tackle behind Alejandro Villanueva and Marcus Gilbert. The Steelers may be leaning toward placing Matt Feiler in as a backup interior lineman, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. A third-round pick, Okorafor would then be in line to replace Chris Hubbard, the new Browns right tackle, in that swing job. “Chuks, we drafted that guy for that reason,” Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak said. “Now the young guy gets a chance kind of like Al a few years ago. And last year, Chris Hubbard got the opportunity with Marcus out. We’ve got a lot of time to work with him. Right now, that’s our guy going forward.” Gilbert’s contract expires after the 2019 season, and although Ben Roethlisberger would prefer he be re-signed in advance of his walk year, the high-end right tackle has dealt with injuries and a suspension in recent years and will be 31 in February.
  • While it’s unlikely Jordan Dangerfield will be able to keep first-round pick Terrell Edmunds off the field, he exited the Steelers’ offseason program as a first-string safety, per Joe Rutter of the Tribune-Review. Morgan Burnett missed minicamp because of an injury Mike Tomlin deemed minor. Edmunds ran with the second-team defense but is expected to get looks at safety and linebacker for a Steelers team that was deficient at those spots at the end of last season. Dangerfield is a fifth-year player who hasn’t seen action since 2016.

Extra Points: Anderson, Verrett, Steelers

C.J. Anderson seemed surprised he didn’t see better offers after the Broncos released him. The Panthers signed the sixth-year veteran to a one-year, $1.75MM deal that comes with a $500K signing bonus. While Anderson was making much more with the Broncos the past two years, Denver didn’t do him any favors by cutting him so late into free agency. However, Anderson asked for a one-year deal for the purposes of re-entering free agency in 2019.

I should be in my prime. I think I have an opportunity to do something really special here,” Anderson said, via Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer. “I asked for the one-year deal. I want to prove myself that I can still play this game at a high level.”

Anderson will be set for what would be his age-28 season in 2019 and, at the moment, be part of a UFA class that includes Le’Veon Bell, Mark Ingram and Ameer Abdullah. Although, Anderson would be able to test the market immediately once the 2019 league year opens. And several running backs signed for more than $1.75MM per year this March.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Jason Verrett has yet to be cleared for full practices after his latest injury, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports. The former first-round Chargers pick suffered a knee injury in September of last season, cutting short a third season for the talented cornerback. But that talent’s come with a well-earned injury-prone label, with Verrett having missed 39 of a possible 64 games in his career. The Chargers have him under contract for 2018 due to picking up his fifth-year option last year, and Williams writes Verrett will start opposite Casey Hayward if he’s healthy.
  • The Steelers liked their situation at linebacker enough to avoid reaching for one in the draft, Kevin Colbert said (via the Associated Press). Pittsburgh signed veteran Jon Bostic in free agency, and Colbert said they plan to give 2016 seventh-rounder Tyler Matakevich a look at the spot alongside Vince Williams as well. Additionally, Steelers first-rounder Terrell Edmunds is expected to receive a look there. While it’s uncertain how extensive the Steelers will examine the Virginia Tech talent at this spot, he spent some time in a linebacker role in Hokies sub-packages.
  • As for some veteran safeties, the market’s been unkind. The Steelers signed Morgan Burnett early in free agency, but arguably the other three top safeties available in March — Eric Reid, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro — remain unsigned. While Reid’s situation isn’t hard to figure out based on recent events, Boston and Vaccaro have not landed jobs despite free agent visits. A former defensive coordinator believes teams’ myriad responsibilities for these players — and the lack of reliable statistics — create issues evaluating outside talent. “It’s hard to determine the value of safeties, based on the different ways that teams use them,” the coordinator said, via Bucky Brooks of NFL.com. “You can’t simply look at the stat sheet and figure out how much of an impact a player makes, due to the different roles that they’re playing in today’s game. Some guys are center fielders asked to play in the middle of the field, while others are playing down in the box as run defenders. Throw in the other guys who play as hybrid slot defenders and nickel corners, it’s hard to put them in the right order when it comes to stacking the board.”