The Steelers and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward have struck agreement on a four-year extension that will pay $71.4MM in total, sources tell ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Heyward had one year to go on his previous deal, so the new add-on will take him through the 2024 campaign.
Between the expected 2021 cap decrease and rising salary expectations for Heyward, there was doubt as to whether the Steelers would be able to retain their defensive captain. Ultimately, the whispers of “Aaron Donald-money” were far-fetched, but Heyward still managed to score nearly $18MM per year on average, giving him the most lucrative contract of any defensive player over the age of 30 in NFL history.
Heyward, who turned 31 in May, didn’t exactly play hard-to-get. All along, he’s made it clear that he wants to continue to star on the Steelers D-Line for years to come. He’s now set to enter his tenth season with Pittsburgh, fresh off of his third consecutive Pro Bowl and second career First-Team All-Pro nod. In 2019, Heyward notched nine sacks, bringing his career tally to 54. The advanced metrics were predictably fond of his work — Pro Football Focus ranked him as the NFL’s second-best interior defender, behind only Rams superstar Aaron Donald.
The deal marks a well-deserved step up in salary for Heyward. His previous six-year deal paid him just over $59MM in total, averaging out to less than $10MM per season.
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