Steelers Insider Believes 2024 Will Be 4-Time All-Pro’s Last Year With the Team

pittsburgh steelers cameron heyward

Getty A Pittsburgh Steelers insider believes 2024 could be Cameron Heyward's last year with the team

This offseason, there are expected to be some big changes coming for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Even some of their biggest names have some uncertainty surrounding them ahead of the 2024 NFL season.

That includes 13-year veteran Cameron Heyward.

Heyward carries a cap hit of more than $22 million for the 2024 season, which has many expecting him to be a candidate for his contract to be restructured.

Even if Heyward and he team work out a way to limit the cap hit in 2024, it seems that could be the end of his time in Pittsburgh.

In a preview of this year’s NFL Combine, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Gerry Dulac pointed out that defensive end should be a position of interest for the Steelers as he expects 2024 to be Heyward’s last season with the Steelers.

“Maybe their biggest area of need — defensive end — will not receive the scrutiny typically befitting a No. 1 pick because the position is one of the thinnest at the combine and offers very few first-round candidates. But that doesn’t mean they will ignore the position. Cam Heyward will be 35 in May and playing what is likely the final of his 14 seasons with the team, and finding his replacement — a Pro Bowl-type player — would otherwise be their priority.”

A Tough 2023 for Heyward

Heyward had a big year off the field this past season. He took home the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

However, he didn’t have as much success on the field. The four-time All-Pro saw his production dip across the board.

His two sacks were his least since 2012. His 33 tackles were his least in a season since 2016.

He had just 5 pressures after getting at least 25 in each of the previous five seasons.

A lot of this can likely be attributed to a groin injury he dealt with during the season. After the season ended he revealed that he had torn his groin off the bone early in the year, but decided to wait for surgery.

The injury cost him six games early in the season and was likely responsible for him playing the lowest percentage of snaps since his rookie season.

It was also certainly a contributing factor for his statistical decline.

He has gotten the injury surgically repaired since the end of season and the Steelers will be hoping that helps him get back to an elite level in 2024, but they could still look at options for the future in case age and injuries are an issue next season.

Potential Replacements for Steelers

The 2024 NFL Draft class doesn’t have a ton of options at the top when it comes to defensive ends, but that might not really be an issue for the Steelers.

Their first round should be focused on a corner or an offensive line upgrade.

In round two, they could have more interest in a defensive end.

The most exciting option that could be available on day two is Washington’s Bralen Trice. He showed off abilities against both the run and pass in college with 23.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks over the past two seasons.

He would probably require a trade up in round two for the Steelers to get him, but he is physical and relentless at defensive end, which would make him a good fit in Pittsburgh.

They could also look for a local option.

The Steelers have picked up some strong talent out of Penn State in recent years and that could continue in 2024 as they have a pair of defensive ends in the draft.

Adisa Isaac is the more proven Nittany Lion. He had 16 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks in his fifth year at Penn State.

Chop Robinson’s appeal is in his potential. He had just 7.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks this past season, but was only in his third year and is very athletic. He could make a big impression at the combine this week.

If the Steelers don’t find their replacement for Heyward in this year’s draft, they could make the position a priority in 2025 and hope they can grab one that is ready to contribute right away.

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