Cameron Heyward Signs Multi-Year Extension With Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers have sealed the lock on their latest emotional leader on defense, signing defensive end Cameron Heyward to an incredibly lengthy contract extension. NFL reporter Ed Bouchette broke the news on Twitter, announcing Heyward had signed a six-year, $59.25 million deal.
The eye test seems to suggest incredible value for the Steelers, but there is more to this deal than the cost-per-year breakdown. Heyward is one of the league’s most promising 3-4 defensive ends, having developed into a reliable pass rusher and instinctive run stopper in the last couple of seasons.
To overpay a player has been the most unforgivable of sins for decades amongst Pittsburgh’s front office, so to lock down a player with the youth and upside of Heyward for as long as they have shows both tremendous faith and lofty expectations.
A first round pick in the 2011 draft, Heyward played sparingly in his first two seasons; par for the course for rookies in black and gold. Since claiming the starting role early in 2013, the former Buckeye has racked up 12.5 sacks and over 100 tackles, while his pocket pressure and play diagnosis has steadily improved as well.
Now with Dick LeBeau gone and Pittsburgh’s defense finding itself in the unfamiliar position of being the weak link of the team, Heyward will be counted on to further compound his production in 2015. The offense alone may be enough to secure the Steelers a playoff spot, but wins in January will be borne out of stifling defense, and Heyward will need to pull more than his fair share to make that happen.