Steelers Urged to Consider Trading 4-Time All-Pro Pass Rusher

Cameron Heyward

Getty Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox called for the Pittsburgh Steelers to consider trading 4-time All-Pro Cameron Heyward.

Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward has built a fine career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. With four All-Pro nominations, including three first-team All-Pros, and six Pro Bowl appearances, Heyward has an argument to one day be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox suggested that the Steelers should consider letting Heyward finish his career with another team.

In an article where he named one player every team should contemplate shopping on the trade market before the start of the season, Knox argued Heyward should be a potential trade chip for the Steelers.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers are never truly rebuilding. Last season, for example, they rolled with then-rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett and still one nine games,” Knox wrote. “A run at the playoffs in 2023 should be expected.

“Yet, it would still behoove the Steelers to at least consider trading standout defensive tackle Cameron Heyward. The six-time Pro Bowler is still a very productive player—he had 74 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 30 quarterback pressures in 2022—but he’s also 34 years old and has just two years remaining on his contract.”

Behind 10.5 sacks, Heyward made his sixth straight Pro Bowl in 2022. He has recorded 78.5 sacks in his career, which is 2 shy of the Steelers’ official sack record.

Pros and Cons to Steelers Trading Cameron Heyward

Heyward continues to play at a high level, but he did turn 34 in May. So if Knox only got one thing correct in his evaluation of Heyward, it’s that he’s much closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

If the Steelers dealt him this offseason, they would be maximizing the return they would receive in a trade.

“Elite defensive tackles have a lot of value in the current market. Parting with a couple of years early could net the Steelers a younger impact player or premium pick with which to build around Pickett,” Knox wrote. “Trading Heyward would also save $15.9 million in cap space, which could be used to further build Pickett’s supporting cast.”

But should the Steelers consider themselves a 2023 contender (they undoubtably do) trading Heyward makes little sense. He’s still a major piece of the Pittsburgh defense, which has the potential to be a top 10 unit if its stars are healthy this fall.

Knox complimented the depth the Steelers have been building along their defensive line in recent years. But that depth is unproven. Heyward is one of only two defensive linemen on the Steelers roster with at least 25 NFL starts.

The other defensive lineman with more than 25 career starts on the Steelers roster is Larry Ogunjobi.

Trading Heyward would leave a big hole. While it would open up cap space, it’s probably too late in the offseason for the additional cap space to make a difference for the 2023 roster.

Spotrac reported the Steelers still have about $14.8 million in space as of June 5 anyway.

Heyward Trade Rumors Surfaced Previously

Trading Heyward before the start of the 2023 season appears highly unlikely. Even Knox wrote that it will “probably not” happen. But it’s not the first time it’s been suggested.

93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi tweeted on October 26 that he heard an NFC team inquired the Steelers about trading for Heyward. But trade discussions did not develop from there because the Steelers weren’t interested.

This interesting tidbit proves there likely would be a market for Heyward if he were made available.

But if general manager Omar Khan wasn’t willing to sell Heyward to the highest bidder when the team held a 2-6 record and little chance of making a postseason run last year, then it’s extremely unlikely he’s interested now.

The Steelers drafted Heyward at No. 31 overall in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. He wasn’t on the roster the last time the team made a trip to the Super Bowl, but he’s the last holdover from that successful era. Heyward is also a vocal team leader and one of the most popular players in the fan base.

Never say never, but the Steelers trading Heyward this summer appears highly unlikely.

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Dave Huslig
Dave Huslig
3 months ago

Heyward will without a doubt will retire a Steeler having spent his entire career there. He’s black and gold all the way through.