DE Cameron Heyward Fires Stern Indirect Warning to Steelers

Cameron Heyward

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward told the media at minicamp that he is open to playing for another team in 2025.

Defensive end Cameron Heyward essentially ended his contract holdout, showing up for the final week of Pittsburgh Steelers OTAs. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t trying to play hardball in other ways to land a new deal.

Through talking to the media at minicamp, Heyward presented the possibility of him finishing his career with another team.

“I have talked to my wife, and we know the reality, and we have had those talks, and she said it could be fun to play somewhere else,” Heyward said, via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. “If that is what is needed to be done, then so be it.

Heyward added that he is “still enjoying the ride” with the Steelers this year. But however indirect, the real message seemed clear — the Steelers should offer him a contract extension or plan on seeing him in a new uniform during 2025.

The veteran defensive end’s 4-year, $65.6 million contract will expire after the 2024 season. But the Steelers may be unwilling to offer him an extension until he can prove he will return to his Pro Bowl form.

Heyward made six straight Pro Bowls from 2017-22. But last season, he suffered a groin injury in Week 1, and Heyward rushed the rehab process to return to the field. As a result, he wasn’t the same elite player upon returning. He had 2 sacks and 3 quarterback hits in 11 games.

In 2024, Heyward will possess a $24.4 million cap hit.

Cameron Heyward Changing His Tune on Steelers Future

Kaboly wrote on June 14 that Heyward’s indirect warning to the Steelers was “a change of tone” from what the defensive end expressed upon his return to the team’s facility.

Heyward received a lot of questions about his contract situation on June 4. He tried not to get too specific with his answers, but he said he wanted to be a “one-helmet guy.”

If there was any lobbying from Heyward on June 4 for why the Steelers should sign him to an extension, it was simply in the form of what the veteran thinks he still brings to the organization.

“I understand I came off a rough season, but I don’t think it’s a step down of where I can play,” Heyward said. “When I’m at the top of my game, I’m still a top-five player at my position.

“I play the run and the pass. I bring leadership.”

It’s a real possibility that Heyward still wants to play for only the Steelers. But if he doesn’t at least appear to threaten to finish his career elsewhere, he may find it difficult to land the money he desires in his next contract.

Kaboly reported “it’s unknown” what Heyward is seeking in salary or guaranteed money. Kaboly added that it’s unclear what the Steelers may or may not have already offered.

Heyward told the media on June 4 that the two sides have been communicating but that there was “nothing really to report.”

Steelers’ Teryl Austin ‘Anticipates’ Heyward Returning to Form

The Steelers front office may want to see how Heyward responds at 35 years old to his injury-plagued 2023 season. But the team’s defensive coordinator Teryl Austin isn’t in wait-and-see mode.

Austin has expectations for Heyward that remain very high.

“I’m anticipating him getting back to being the Cam Heyward that we know,” Austin told reporters. “He’s big. He’s strong. He’s moving well. You can see it now. He’s moving so much better than he was last year.

“And so, I’m assuming we’re going to get the Cam that we’re used to seeing.”

Heyward returning to his Pro Bowl form would be a big boost for the Steelers defense. It would also greatly increase his chances of landing another contract in Pittsburgh.

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