Officials fear congestion from digging up highways elsewhere in the city could lead to traffic meltdown.
Five major schemes to resurface important routes will be delayed for a year.
But critics warned the move would create its own problems if potholes are allowed to get worse.
The council's transport convener Lesley Hinds said residents deserved a break from the roadworks associated with the trams, which are due to finish next year. She said: "There was work scheduled to be carried out on the main arterial routes into the city but we are proposing deferring these for a year or two to give city residents a break."
Tory transport spokeswoman Joanna Mowat said: "I think the people of Edinburgh would like us to get these works done as soon as possible. Our roads have not been looked after properly for the past 30 years and we are forever playing catch-up."