3 contracts holding the Steelers back right now

Pittsburgh can free up salary cap space, but something must be done about these three cap numbers in 2024.

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Cameron Heyward: 4 years, $65.6 million

When Cameron Heyward signed a lucrative extension with the Steelers during the 2020 offseason, the team was getting a great deal. Heyward had already established himself as one of the best interior defenders in the NFL, so $16.4 million in new annual earnings on his four-year, $65.6 million contract was chump change for a player of his caliber.

Sadly, the Steelers are running into the same predicament they often find themselves in. Heyward's deal was restructured during the 2021 offseason -- just one year after signing his contract. In the process, however, Pittsburgh pushed the bulk of his cap hit into the future.

Kicking the can down the road is nothing new for the Steelers as they try to remain as competitive as possible each year. But by doing so, Heyward has a lofty cap number of over $22.4 million for the upcoming 2024 season.

Because this is the final year of his deal, the Steelers cannot restructure his contract and push money into the future. Heyward already said that he's not taking a pay cut. This means that Pittsburgh will likely have to give the nearly 35-year-old defensive lineman a contract (perhaps one that includes voidable years) so that they can lower his cap number in 2024.

At his age and the fact that he missed half the season in 2023, Omar Khan and the front office can't justify allowing Heyward's cap number to take up 9.2 percent of the team's total cap space in 2024. The final year of his contract is holding the Steelers back.

All contract and salary cap numbers courtesy of Over the Cap.

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