Steelers deal with Cameron Heyward looks great compared to other top defensive linemen

Tommy Jaggi
Cameron Heyward #97 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Cameron Heyward #97 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Cameron Heyward has been considered among the NFL’s best defensive linemen in the past three seasons. Here’s why the Steelers’ new extension with Heyward looks so good.

There has been a lot of talk all offseason on whether or not the Steelers would be able to execute a contract extension with one of their top players before the start of the 2020 season. With just days remaining before kickoff, star defensive lineman Cameron Heyward just inked a rich new deal with Pittsburgh.

While this signing makes us ponder what JuJu Smith-Schuster’s future may hold beyond the 2020 season, it’s a good feeling knowing that Pittsburgh has just locked up one of their best players that will quite possibly make him a Steeler for life.

To the surprise of many, Heyward’s cap numbers seem rather reasonable. According to Ian Rapoport, the Steelers former first-round draft choice back in 2011 agreed to a 4-year extension worth $65.6 million:

In doing so, Heyward becomes the highest-paid defensive player over the age of 30 in the NFL. While there are always a few risks involved with giving an older player an extension of this magnitude, it looks like the Steelers made out compared to some recent NFL contracts.

Why Heyward’s extension with the Steelers is somewhat team-friendly

Breaking down the numbers, Heyward is still going to be among the highest-paid defensive lineman in the league. If Rapoport’s numbers are correct, Heyward will be paid $16.4 million per year in extension numbers and $15.02 per year in total contract numbers over five years:

Though this seems like a good amount of change, it’s actually quite reasonable compared to what other interior defenders have been going for. This offseason, DeForest Buckner was traded to the Indianapolis Colts where he inked a new deal that will earn him $21.0 million per season, according to Over the Cap. Just months later, Chiefs star defensive lineman Chris Jones earned a contract that will pay him $20.0 million per season.

While these players may both be younger than Heyward and likely have a handful of extra playing years left in the tank, they have combined for just two Pro Bowl appearances in 8 combined NFL seasons. In addition, Heyward’s two first-team All-Pros are more than any active interior defensive lineman in the league outside of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.

Also, other players who are earning more or similar money to Heyward show how good this contract really is. 32-year-old Geno Atkins is currently earning $16.3 million per year on a deal he inked back in 2019. Even less established players like Leonard Williams and Kawaan Short are earning $16.1 million per year.

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At the end of the day, you are going to find very few Steelers fans who are upset about this new deal for Cameron Heyward. He is an All-Pro talent who needs to be in Pittsburgh for life. It looks like that’s going to happen now.