Cameron Heyward has a blunt message for Steelers fans asking him to take a pay cut

Cam Heyward wants to keep playing football... and don't ask him to take a pay cut.

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

In case you were wondering, Cameron Heyward isn't going anywhere. When one season ends and a new offseason begins, we examine the roster to see which players are returning and which players have likely played their last game in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a handful of players whose futures with the team seem to be up in the air, but Heyward isn't one of them.

Following the season, the former three-time First-Team All-Pro defensive lineman recorded an episode of his Not Just Football Podcast where he made it abundantly clear that he wants to continue playing.

intentionsReporters asked Heyward about this future immediately after the playoff loss to the Bills. If it wasn't clear enough before what his intentions are for 2024, it is now.

""I want to play football. Why can't I just decide? Why do you have to keep bringing it up? I literally got asked that right after the game, and the next day it was like, 'Has your mind changed at all of what's going to happen?' I'm like, 'Bro, it wasn't even 24 hours..."
"I'm not retiring. I hate to be blunt about it, but you know, I'm not retiring, and I would like to get my body healthy.""

Cameron Heyward via Not Just Football

Heyward is adamant that he's 'not retiring'. His aim is to get his body healthy and return strong for his 14th NFL season. However, the question has arisen about whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers should can move forward with Heyward in their current financial state.

As we get set to enter the offseason, the Steelers are over $15 million in the salary cap hole, according to Over the Cap. There are ways they can free up space in a hurry, but Cam Heyward's contract situation is particularly interesting.

Heyward has a substantial cap number of over $22.4 million for the upcoming season (the final year of his deal). This is a lot of money for a player who missed half the 2023 season with a groin injury and who turns 35 years old this offseason.

Some have speculated about whether or not the Steelers defensive lineman would be willing to take a pay cut. Heyward quickly put that idea to rest on his Not Just Football Podcast.

"“I bust my butt in rehab, doing everything. I got to let things calm down. Screw the people who keep talking about me getting a pay cut.”"

Cameron Heyward via Not Just Football

This was a blunt way to say that's not interested in cutting his lofty $16 million base salary this season. However, it's clear that something has to be done with his contact. The Steelers cannot enter the year with Heyward making what he's set to make. This is why the pay cut talks seem justified.

The most likely solution is that Pittsburgh will give Heyward a contract extension -- one that likely tacks on a few voidable years in an effort to spread this cap hit out down the road. The problem with this is that it will cut into their salary cap space in future years.

The other option -- the one that everyone is too afraid to mention -- is cutting Cameron Heyward. By doing so, the Pittsburgh Steelers would instantly save $16 million in cap space. This is more than enough money to throw back into a quality defensive lineman -- one who could work alongside Keeanu Benton for the foreseeable future.

We all know that a team leader and defensive captain isn't getting cut. That's not the Steeler way. Something will be done to lower Heyward's cap hit in 2024, but that won't come in the form of a team-friendly pay cut.