As Cameron Heyward continues to hunt for his next contract, we’ll go back to a transaction from five years ago. On July 16, 2015, the defensive lineman signed a six-year, $59.25MM extension with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh selected the Ohio State product with the 31st pick of the 2011 draft. It took a while for Heyward to settle into a starting role, but he never looked back after starting 13 games during the 2013 campaign. After combining for 12.5 sacks between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Steelers decided to make a lengthy commitment to the lineman. However, the deal did provide the organization with some flexibility at only $15MM in guaranteed money.
Heyward has more than lived up to that deal. He’s earned Pro Bowl appearances in each of the past three seasons, and he received first-team All-Pro honors in 2017 and 2019. The veteran has only missed a single regular season game over the past three years, averaging just under 10 sacks per season.
Following a 2016 campaign where he was limited to only seven games, Heyward agreed to restructure his contract (he also restructured prior to the 2018 season). Now, the 31-year-old is looking to get paid.
With Heyward set to hit free agency following the 2020 season, some sources believe he could get a contract that’s pushing Aaron Donald‘s six-year, $135MM deal ($50MM guaranteed). Sure, Heyward is on the wrong side of 30, but his versatility and continued production means he’ll surely find a lucrative deal. Considering the uncertainty of the 2021 cap, it’s uncertain if the Steelers will even be able to retain their defensive captain.
While Heyward’s future in Pittsburgh may be a bit uncertain, the team can at least rest easy knowing they inked the lineman to an excellent deal five years ago today.
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