Latest On Steelers LB Alex Highsmith

The Steelers still intend to make Alex Highsmith a foundational part of their defense. While we haven’t heard many updates on the edge rusher’s extension talks, general manager Omar Khan made it clear this week that he intends to sign the player to a long-term pact.

“We don’t like to talk specifically about an individual contract, but I’ll say this, he’s a Steeler,” Khan said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan (via Josh Alper of “Since the day he got here, he’s been awesome. He gets better and better every year, and I really hope Alex is here for a long time.”

Back in December, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic suggested that a Highsmith extension was inevitable and “a done deal.” The writer still believes that’s the case, and while the Steelers would traditionally hand out these types of extensions in August or September, Kaboly believes “Khan would probably like to get it done before the start of camp” in July.

After starting all 16 of his appearances in 2021, Highsmith had a breakout season in 2022. The former third-round pick finished the campaign with 14.5 sacks and a league-leading five forced fumbles, leading to him ranking 28th among 119 qualifying edge players on Pro Football Focus’ positional rankings.

As Kaboly notes, there could be a few complications during negotiations. For starters, the Steelers already gave edge rusher T.J. Watt a four-year, $112MM extension that featured $80MM in guaranteed money. While most teams aren’t investing big contracts in two edge rushers, the Steelers’ rookie-contract offensive players could allow them to extend on the defensive side of the ball.

As of right now, Highsmith is set to earn $2.74MM in the final year of his rookie contract. As Kaboly notes, the Steelers currently don’t have the cap space to give the 25-year-old a lucrative extension, but they could easily carve out that space by restructuring the contracts of high-priced players like Watt, Diontae Johnson, and/or James Daniels.

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