3 Steelers contract extensions that need immediate attention

Omar Khan should should be pushing to get these three players locked up beyond the 2024 season.
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers are as loyal as any team in the league when it comes to rewarding players with contract extensions. They want to reward their best players by keeping them around as long as they can. But contract extensions can be handed out for a variety of reasons.

Omar Khan and the front office could be looking to decrease current salary cap numbers by handing out extensions, avoid a bidding war in free agency, or jump ahead of the curve before the market rises again.

Star players like T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Minkah Fitzpatrick are under contract for at least two more seasons, and they could be getting a steal with players who are still early on their rookie deals like George Pickens and Joey Porter Jr. However, these three contract extensions quietly need immediate attention from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1. Jaylen Warren, RB

The Steelers have two running backs who will soon have expiring contracts. Najee Harris is coming off his best season in the NFL in Year 3, and Pittsburgh needs to make a decision about his fifth-year option shortly after the draft. However, Jaylen Warren is the running back the team should keep on a second deal.

While Warren hasn't carried the load like Najee, that's actually a good thing when talking about handing a running back a second contract. Warren has a fraction of the amount of wear and tear on his body, and he has been one of the most efficient running backs in the league in each of his first two seasons.

Warren is getting set to enter the final year of his contract, and his performance has warranted a rich new deal. The good news is that, because he hasn't put up elite raw numbers yet, Pittsburgh might be able to get him on a discount compared to the top running backs in the league. The Steelers could retain their explosive RB, and the best years could still be ahead of him.

2. Justin Fields, QB

Justin Fields has yet to play a snap in a Steelers uniform, but the Steelers have every incentive to try to get him locked up to a contract extension beyond the 2024 season. If Russell Wilson struggles, Pittsburgh will turn to the field. This means that he will want to be paid like a starting quarterback next offseason.

If Fields ends up revitalizing his career, he could be looking for a massive contract extension next offseason. On the flip side, if the Steelers were to pay him now, they could be huge winners in the end. The market was already very low for Fields when the Bears attempted to trade him early in the offseason.

Knowing this, the former first-round pick may be willing to sign an extension for job security and the promise of getting a shot to start in this league again. This could come at a discount price, and if he turns out to be great, the Steelers will have an excellent contract with their starting quarterback.

This team needs some security at QB beyond the 2024 season. Justin Fields may not be willing to sign an extension as he bets on himself, but the front office needs to at least try to get a contract extension done before he hits the market next offseason.

3. Cameron Heyward, DL

Entering his age-35 season, not everyone believes that a contract extension for Cameron Heyward is vital. Some Steelers fans want him to play out the final year of his deal in 2024 and sail off into the sunset. That's probably not happening.

Heyward doesn't seem to have plans of retiring anytime soon, and when he's healthy, he's still a reliable football player and a cornerstone piece on the roster. If he plans to play a few more seasons, we would like to see him come as a member of the Black and Gold.

We have seen dominant defensive linemen play late into their 30s, and thanks to Heyward's length and strength, he should be able to play at a high level in his old age. The Steelers would have a massive hole on the defensive interior next to Keeanu Benton next offseason if they decided to let Heyward go.

A contract extension with Heyward could lower his 2024 cap number and ensure that one of their best players of the past decade retires in Pittsburgh.