Steelers rumors: Pittsburgh has opened contract talks with Alex Highsmith
By Tommy Jaggi
One of the biggest questions that remained as Steelers OTAs began was whether or not Alex Highsmith would be getting his contract extension. The productive pass rusher is entering the final season of his rookie deal, and many were skeptical of whether or not he would be present at OTAs.
Highsmith ultimately took a page from the Cameron Heyward playbook. Despite wanting a new deal, the former third-round pick showed up to work for the first day of organized team activities on May 23rd and he participated in positional drills.
Nobody could have blamed Highsmith if he decided to skip out on these voluntary practice sessions. By participating, he puts himself at risk of suffering a non-contact injury prior to receiving his lucrative payday. However, it appears that contract talks are already in the works and an extension could be finalized in the near future.
According to NFL Rumors, the Pittsburgh Steelers have begun contract talks with Alex Highsmith. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic essentially confirmed this. As he joined Chris Mueller and Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan, Kaboly said that it's a matter of 'when, not if' regarding a contract extension for Highsmith.
Highsmith seems to be optimistic that a deal will get done. The question becomes when, and will the Steelers edge defender miss time during training camp and the preseason?
Steelers contract extension with Alex Highsmith could take some time
There are a few different ways of looking at this and some samples we can use in recent years. Based on how long it took the team to get a deal done with T.J. Watt, putting pen to paper on the final contract language for Alex Highsmith could take some time.
During the summer of 2021, the Steelers were working on an extension with Watt, but couldn't come to terms on an agreement until just before the start of the season when Watt finally walked into the front office and said he was signing the contract.
Watt wanted to be out there with his team but essentially operated under a 'hold in' to avoid injury. Because of this, the Steelers star didn't practice in team sessions during training camp for most of the summer and he missed the entire preseason.
On the other hand, Pittsburgh was able to get Minkah Fitzpatrick's extension done quickly. He inked his deal over a month before Steelers training camp even kicked off and he was ready to go for the summer.
Highsmith is currently slated to have a base salary of just over $2.7 million in 2023, per Over the Cap, and he has grossly outplayed the rookie contract that he initially signed back in 2020.
Obviously, we are hoping that the looming extension for Highsmith more closely resembles that of Minkah's deal in terms of timing. Following a 14.5-sack season that included 5 forced fumbles, Highsmith is in line for a rich new deal, but the Steelers really don't have a choice other than to pay him. Let's hope they can get this extension out of the way so both parties can be all about business by the time July rolls around