In recent days there have been hints that the Pittsburgh Steelers were making progress on a contract negotiation with one of their star players. Over the weekend, All-Pro right guard David DeCastro agreed to restructure his contract, creating $3.85 million in new salary cap room. And last week—when general manager Kevin Colbert and team president Art Rooney II were asked about pending contract negotiations—both sounded vaguely optimistic, with Colbert noting that things can usually “be worked out” when both team and [great] player want to stay together.
So it’s no surprise that on Sunday night the Steelers formally announced that they have signed defensive end Cameron Heyward to a new five-year contract that ought to keep him in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his All-Pro career.
Heyward announced the agreement via his Twitter account with a message saying: “Pittsburgh is where I belong!”
The Steelers went on to re-tweet his message, saying: “We’re excited that you’re staying in Pittsburgh with a new 5-year deal through 2024!”
According to Ian Rapoport, national insider for NFL.com and NFL Network, the contract includes $65.6 million in new money and keeps Heyward under contract for the next five years for a total of $75.1 million. That makes him “the highest paid defensive player over 30 in NFL history based [on] yearly average.”
Cam Heyward’s Career with the Steelers
Cam Heyward was Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick in 2011, 31st overall, coming to the Steelers from Ohio State University.
During his nine seasons with the team he has played in 134 games, including 99 starts. In that time he has made 397 tackles, including 79 tackles for loss, 117 quarterback hits and 54 sacks. He has also forced six fumbles and recovered five others. Pro Football Focus recently identified him as one of the 50 best players in the NFL entering 2020. He has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past three seasons.
Heyward was entering the last season of a six-year contract he signed in 2015. He was also one of team’s top 5 pending unrestricted free agents entering 2021, a list that is now reduced to four players, including wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and offensive tackle Al Villanueva.
With Heyward’s contract situation resolved, he and his defensive teammates can now set their sights on setting a new franchise sack record. If the Steelers record 50 or more sacks in 2020, it will be the fourth consecutive season the team has done so, an achievement that has not been realized in the NFL since the 1980s.
Cameron is the son of the late NFL and University of Pittsburgh running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. Coming out of high school Cam was rated the seventh best football player in the state of Georgia and the 13th best defensive tackle in the country.
He went on to start 46 of 52 games at Ohio State, recording a total of 163 tackles and 15 sacks. He was named team captain and was recipient of the Jack Stephenson Award, given by the coaching staff to the team’s most outstanding defensive lineman.
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