Pros and cons of an extension for Steelers DL Cameron Heyward

The Steelers have a tough decision to make when it comes to an extension for Cameron Heyward. Here are the pros and cons of giving him a new deal.

Steelers star defensive lineman, Cameron Heyward, recently talked about his interest in retiring in Pittsburgh but acknowledged that he needs to be prepared for any scenario. In his last three seasons, Heyward has earned two first-team All-Pros in addition to three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

Heyward is a top-five player on the Steelers roster, and losing him could prove to be a massive blow to the team. Now entering the last year of his six-year, $59.25 million contract he signed back in 2015, Heyward is set for a massive payday in the 2021 offseason that is projected to pay him $16.7 million per season in yearly salary, according to Spotrac.com.

While we would all like to see a deal get done, it may not be as easy to accomplish as we would like. Here are the pros and cons of giving Cameron Heyward a massive new contract extension:

Pros of an extension for Heyward

Heyward is clearly a staple on defense to one of the NFL’s best franchises, and his resume speaks for itself. Over his last three seasons, Heyward has earned 29.0 sacks, 37 tackles for a loss, and 63 quarterback hits. His production lines up with the Pro Bowl and All-Pro honor he has recently received, and there probably aren’t three interior defenders in the NFL I’d rather have over the next two or three seasons.

Heyward is playing at the top of his game and has really never been better. In addition, he’s missed just one game in the past three years, so health is not a concern. I’m confident that Heyward could give the Steelers several more seasons as one of the top players at his position.

Cons of an extension for Heyward

The biggest con, without a doubt, has to do with money. Pittsburgh has dug themselves a financial hole in recent years, and they are still trying to keep their head above water. It’s possible that cap space could be even tighter next season.

Unfortunately, Heyward isn’t the only star who needs a new deal for the Steelers. T.J. Watt, David DeCastro, and JuJu Smith-Schuster are all in line for lucrative extensions as well. Because of this, it may not be realistic to get a deal done with every star player. Watt isn’t going anywhere, and I have a feeling the Steelers are going to try to keep DeCastro around.

JuJu could draw the short straw here if it comes down to that, but he has age on his side – Heyward does not. Already 31 years old, a new deal would take the former first-round pick deep into his 30s, and Pittsburgh may end up overpaying based on his past production instead of what he’s going to do at the tail end of his career.

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There are two ways to look at every situation. While signing Cameron Heyward could limit what the Steelers are able to do financially, I am all in favor of him retiring in Pittsburgh. Let’s hope they can work things out.