The Steelers may have to win the Super Bowl before the 2025 season otherwise it may be too late
So, when I say that the Steelers Super Bowl window may close after the 2024 season, here’s what I mean by that statement: Cam Heyward, our former first-round pick in the 2011 draft, a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro selection, will be thirty-five years old.
It is also not a coincidence that according to Spotrac.com, Heyward’s contract will expire after the 2024 season. Does that mean that we will not re-sign him to either a new contract or a contract extension? Of course not, but what type of player will he be by then?
Will he still be a starter playing at a high level or will be relegated to a backup role because of his age and because of the ‘wear and tear’ associated with playing in the trenches? I certainly hope it is the former and not the latter.
After the 2024 season, the Steelers will still boast the likes of T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick on the defensive side of the ball, but who will become the next Heyward, meaning who will be able to replace the productivity that we have become accustomed to seeing from Heyward?
The Steelers defense may be tested like never before following the 2024 season
Obviously, this is all speculation on my part. For all I know, we may draft Heyward’s replacement in the next two years, but, honestly, if you look at the current Steelers roster, we have a lot of inexperience and question marks along the defensive line.
If Heyward is out for any length of time, who would be able to replace not only his productivity but his leadership? The leadership aspect of things would fall to Watt and Fitzpatrick, but, again, who on the roster can replicate Heyward’s productivity?
I am sure players like Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal will do their best to step up and I am sure others will as well, but, again, no one currently not named Heyward can play at the same level as he plays and has played over his career.
Of course, there is the other side of the ball. I don’t think you can talk about the Steelers Super Bowl window closing after the 2024 season without talking about the offense. Frankly, I have no idea what to expect from the Steelers offense this season or for the next two seasons, for that matter.
We have always been a franchise built around a strong defense. I think it has been difficult to draft players who fit our scheme and who can excel in our scheme. It is one thing to draft a player or to sign a free agent, but it is quite another thing for that player to excel.
Heyward has excelled in our scheme as have others, but my fear is that once his contract expires, we may not be able to find a suitable replacement, assuming of course we do not re-sign him. It reminds me a lot of when the majority of the Steel Curtain retired.
The Steelers found it to be tough sledding trying to replace those legendary players. We made it to the AFC Championship game in 1984 but did not see another Super Bowl appearance until 1995.
It then took us another decade to win our fifth Super Bowl, then another three seasons to win our sixth Super Bowl, but we have not won one since the 2008 season. This year, the Steelers are going on fourteen seasons without a Super Bowl appearance, assuming we do not make it this year.
That is an incredibly long Super Bowl drought, at least as far as the Steelers are concerned. Let’s hope we can get there while we still have Heyward’s services.