It was announced that the Steelers had signed veteran Alex Highsmith to a new contract. He agreed to terms with a deal that keeps him with the team for five years and pays him 70 million dollars total over the life of the deal. Considering he was entering a contract year and the amount he was set to be paid, he essentially signed a four-year deal worth $68 million dollars.
This was a deal well worth doing, and it seemed likely that the team would ink Highsmith to a deal this offseason. He is coming off a breakout season, posting 14.5 sacks and consistently getting to the quarterback off the edge. He has gotten better every season, and there is good reason to think that he may still grow into an even better pass rusher.
Looking at the deal, Highsmith now has a significant pay increase, but the deal is a fair one given the current market of pass rushers. His money per year on the new deal is roughly $17 million a season, and that puts him alongside the likes of Shaquil Barrett and Chandler Jones. That is fair for an up-and-coming defender.
The Steelers got a fair value for a good player
No, this contract isn’t some sort of immense value, but for a team that is expecting to win with a great defense, having a pair of top-end pass rushers is huge. The team knows their identity, and ideally, they will be playing with a slim lead over a passing offense. Having Watt and Highsmith coming after the quarterback will be huge.
Highsmith was never going to reset the edge rusher market, but he certainly deserved a nice pay raise. He got just that, and the Steelers get four new years of having him under contract. This makes the team as a whole better and keeps the focus on limiting offenses while the offense plays at a slower pace.
I also like the fact that the Steelers are getting deals done sooner than later with their top guys. While I don’t fault players for “holding in” while waiting on a new deal, earlier extensions allow for everyone to show up at camp and get to work.
There is a lot to like in this deal. The value is fair, the player is great, and edge rusher is a premium position for the team. Expect this defense to be amongst the best this season, and having Highsmith and Watt locked down ensures that the Steelers will have one of the best edge rusher rooms in the entire league.