Steelers’ Cameron Heyward Speaks Out Following Surgery

Cameron Heyward

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward posted a message on social media following surgery on February 19.

Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward of the Pittsburgh Steelers preached early this offseason how much he needs to get his body right for the 2024 season. The 3-time first-team All-Pro appears to have taken the first step in that goal.

Heyward posted a picture of himself in his Instagram story after undergoing surgery on February 19. Along with the photo, Heyward also posted a caption.

“Surgery done finally!!!” wrote Heyward. “Ready to get back to feeling good!”

Heyward didn’t specify what surgery he underwent, but he dealt with a groin injury throughout the entire 2023 season. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly reported on January 17 that the defensive lineman had a groin issue on the first day of training camp.

Then in Week 1, Heyward tore his groin muscle off the bone.

He underwent surgery and rushed a 12-week rehab process to return in seven and a half weeks.

Upon his return, the Steelers run defense greatly improved. But Heyward was not his usual dominant pass rushing self. He finished the 2023 season with 2 sacks and a career-low 3 quarterback hits.

Cameron Heyward Getting Healthy for 2024 Season

In the face of grumblings that he could retire, Heyward clarified that he plans to play in 2024 during the January 18 episode of his podcast, Not Just Football.

But Heyward also made it clear that he has to get his body right to make that possible.

The veteran shared that he played the 2023 season on one leg because of his groin issue. He said it’s not something that he regrets doing, but it’s also not something he could do again.

“I’m not going through this season doing this stuff again,” Heyward said. “It’s not fair to my body, it’s not fair to my family for me to do what I did this past year and try to do it for multiple seasons.”

The Steelers would love to get back a healthy Heyward. He will turn 35 in May, but up until his groin issue in 2023, he had been getting better with age.

In 2022, Heyward recorded 10.5 sacks with 23 quarterback hits in 2022. Both were near the highest marks of his career.

From 2019-21, Heyward made first or second-team All-Pro every season. The 2021 and 2022 season were the first time Heyward posted back-to-back campaigns with double-digit sacks.

“I fully expect when I do play, to be playing at a higher level than I played this past year,” Heyward said. “I don’t think I’m falling off a cliff yet. There’s a lot more I can do and a lot more that I need to do in this game before I retire.

“I’m not ready to write the ending just yet.”

Heyward Aiming to Play More than One More Season

If healthy, the 13-year veteran isn’t eyeing just a return for 2024. He said on his podcast that he’d like to play beyond next fall.

That’s actually great news for the Steelers because of his contract situation.

Heyward is set to have a $22.4 million cap hit for the 2024 season. That’s a high number based on his 2023 production, and the Steelers could save $16 million against the salary cap by releasing him.

Kaboly explained the Steelers won’t do that, though, because Art Rooney II views Heyward as one of the franchise’s all-time greats.

Heyward also just won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which the NFL hypes as the most important individual award the league offers. For that reason alone, it would be a very bad PR move for the Steelers to release Heyward this offseason.

One option the Steelers have, though, is to sign the veteran to an extension. That would lower his cap hit for the 2024 season.

For the Steelers to be motivated to do that, they have to see Heyward can return healthy. His offseason surgery was likely the first step in that process.

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