North Notes: Heyward, Lions, Bennett

Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward is due for a big-time contract and will likely ink one before training camp opens, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

I try to stay out of the process and just focus on what I can control,” Heyward said. “I’d love to get a contract, but I have to just continue to keep my eyes on the prize. I would love for it to happen. I think they want it to happen.”

Last season, Heyward was the first defensive end to lead the Steelers in sacks in a decade as he and Jason Worilds tied with 7.5 a piece. Heyward says he plans on being even more of a force this season and topping that total. Here’s more out of the North divisions..

  • There are a number of Steelers entering their walk years, but Heyward might be the only one to sign a new deal, Bouchette writes. The Steelers may try to sign tackle Kelvin Beachum, but they may not pay him what he’s likely worth on the opening market. Last year, Pro Football Focus rated him as the fifth best left tackle in the game.
  • The Lions hosted a ton of notable veteran free agents on Wednesday but did not sign any of them immediately after the session, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Wide receivers Brad Smith and Robert Meachem and running backs Ben Tate and Daniel Thomas were among the free agents in Detroit today but none of them have deals – at least not yet. The Lions appear set at running back after drafting Ameer Abdullah in the second round to pair with Joique Bell, but Bell is still recovering from offseason surgeries. Tate and Thomas, in theory, could be called upon if Bell’s recovery takes longer than expected.
  • Bears head coach John Fox is unsure if Martellus Bennett will attend the team’s mandatory minicamp, as Jeff Dickerson of writes. The tight end is pushing for a raise from the $4.9MM base he’s scheduled to earn in 2015. The 2014 Pro Bowler has two years left on a four-year, $20.4MM deal he signed in March of 2013.
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