Steelers DL Cameron Heyward Holding Out During OTAs

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After initial thoughts that Steelers defensive mainstay Cameron Heyward was perhaps contemplating retirement, we heard reports that seemed to indicate that he intended to return for his 14th season of play. Our newest report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler seems to indicate that Heyward’s visions for the future expand far past the 2024 NFL season.

Heyward, 35, has spent all 13 of his NFL seasons with the Steelers, somehow getting better with age. Before reaching the fifth-year option of his first-round rookie contact, the Steelers extended Heyward to a six-year, $59.25MM deal. Up to that point, Heyward had showed plus attributes as a pass rusher with a career-high of 7.5 sacks in a season. After missing the team’s final ten games of the first year of his new contract in 2016, Heyward delivered a career year with 12.0 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and 22 quarterback hits the following season.

Since then, Heyward has perennially been considered one of the top interior pass rushers in the NFL, missing a Pro Bowl last year for the first time since that breakout season. In addition to a down year, Heyward missed more than two games with injury for the first time since 2016, sitting out six contests near the beginning of the year. That groin injury was part of Heyward’s consideration to hang up his cleats, but according to Fowler, Heyward is healthy from last year’s injury and plans to play “several more years.”

In order to play several more years, though, Heyward is going to need a new contract. The veteran is heading into the final year of his most recent deal. He is reportedly seeking an extension and is pushing for the new deal this offseason, so much so that Heyward is planning not to attend the team’s organized team activities. An extension could also benefit the Steelers, as well, as Heyward is set to represent a $22.41MM cap hit in 2024. A new deal could lessen that cap hit, pushing bigger numbers to later years.

Heyward, who also skipped Pittsburgh’s voluntary offseason workouts, has never missed an offseason program during his time as a long-time team captain. Going to these lengths shows just how serious he is about pursuing a new deal that keeps him in town for several more seasons.

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