Each year the Pittsburgh Steelers adhere to a self-imposed deadline for signing existing players to contract extensions, with the start of the regular season as that milestone. So there are just 11 more days for the Steelers to sign defensive end Cameron Heyward—or any of his teammates—to a new contract.
A week ago Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert seemed to throw cold water on the idea of signing any player to a contract extension, noting that uncertainties about the salary cap going forward were a big reason why the team hadn’t made much progress in negotiations.
“We have to keep in mind what the future holds for us in 2021 and beyond, and, quite honestly that’s a big unknown,” said Colbert, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We don’t know what we’re dealing with, with future caps.”
Kevin Colbert on Cam Heyward
But on Wednesday Colbert—arguably the best general manager in the NFL—sounded much less dismissive of the idea, at least as it pertained to former first-round pick Cameron Heyward, who is entering the last year of the six-year $59 million contract he signed in 2015.
In an interview on 93.7 The Fan, Colbert declined, as always, to discuss any individual negotiation. But he did say that “when we have a great player, we always want them to finish their career here. And when the player has that same desire, it’s usually something that can be worked out. So, we have another week … and we’ll see where things go, not only with any individual player, but maybe there’s other things that pop up that we just aren’t aware of yet.”
Art Rooney II on Cam Heyward
In an interview with the Tribune-Review on Wednesday, Steelers president Art Rooney II went one step further in indicating that the Steelers consider it a “priority” to keep Heyward on the team beyond the 2020 season.
“No doubt, Cam has been an outstanding player for us on and off the field,” Rooney said. “What he means in the locker room is tremendous. That is why we’d love to keep him, extend his contract. Whether it’s before the season or after the season, he’s going to be one of our priorities to make sure he’s here next year as well.”
Heyward, 31, is scheduled to earn $9.5 million in base salary this season and he counts $13.25 million against the 2020 salary cap.
Rooney went on to note that while the Steelers face a challenging salary cap situation going forward, “everybody will be facing the same kind of challenges,” he said. “We don’t know what the cap exactly will be. We know what the floor will be [$175 million]. We know it’s going to be a challenge.”
Contract Extension for Head Coach Mike Tomlin?
It’s worth noting, too, that Joe Rutter of the Tribune-Review also asked Rooney whether a contract extension might be in the offing for head coach Mike Tomlin, as Tomlin typically gets extended when he has two years remaining on his deal.
At the moment, Tomlin is signed through 2021, with an option for the 2022 season.
“The only thing I can say is we are very happy with Mike as our coach and look forward to him continuing beyond this season,” Rooney said. “We don’t like to get into that business and discuss his contract publicly, but we’re very happy that Mike is our coach, that’s for sure.”
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