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Exclusive: Cam Heyward, Steelers in Talks for Contract Extension

Defensive captain Cam Heyward has had contract extension talks with the Pittsburgh Steelers and wants to play for three more seasons.

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Cam Heyward Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers captain Cam Heyward runs out of the tunnel at Acrisure Stadium for a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 23, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Cam Heyward wants to play beyond the 2024 season and has been in contact with the Pittsburgh Steelers about a contract extension.

Heyward, who turned 35 earlier this month, is entering the final season of a four-year, $65 million contract that is set to pay him $16 million in 2024. Heyward said he’d like to play for a few more seasons, and hopes to be able to remain in Pittsburgh through the end of his career.

“We’ve talked about an extension,” Heyward said to Steelers Now at a community event on Saturday. “We’ll see what happens. My goal is to play two to three more years. Mostly three. I’m looking for an opportunity. We’ll see what happens. I’d like it to be here, but my goal is to play. So we’ll see.”

Because the Steelers do not negotiate with players in-season, they typically handle contract extensions with players in the summer before their final season. A contract extension with Heyward could reduce his 2024 salary cap hit, if the team turns some of his $16 million salary into a signing bonus that would be spread out over the life of the new contract.

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Cam Heyward

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward chases Buffalo Bills receiver Khalil Shakir on Jan. 15, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Heyward is coming off an injury-plagued 2022 season, when he suffered a torn groin and also had surgery for a core muscle injury, also known as a sports hernia. Heyward was expected to miss three months after the Week 1 injury and surgery, but returned eight weeks later, albeit well before he was 100%. Heyward played in 11 games in 2023, recording 33 tackles, six tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits, two sacks and one pass defended.

Until the injuries, the elder statesman of the Pittsburgh defense had shown no signs of slowing down, despite his 194 games of NFL experience. Heyward had earned Pro Bowl nods in six consecutive seasons from 2017-21 and was a four-time Associated Press All-Pro in that span. He set a career high with 89 tackles in 2021, and his 20.5 sacks between 2021-22 were the most he ever had over a two-year span.

The Steelers have very little in terms of contractual value committed beyond the 2024 season. They have $168.3 million committed to 29 players for 2025, with the fifth-most cap space in the NFL, according to Over the Cap.

The Steelers are much tighter to the cap for 2024, and a salary cap hit reduction for Heyward could help general manager Omar Khan in his pursuit of a wide receiver. Heyward has said that he would not take a pay cut in order to help the team’s salary cap.

“I bust my butt in rehab, doing everything,” Heyward said on his podcast, Not Just Football, in January. “I got to let things calm down. Screw the people who keep talking about me getting a pay cut.”

Regardless of his contract status, Heyward remains dedicated to giving back to the community in his hometown. The 2023 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner was in East Liberty on Saturday, partnering with Little Caesars Love Kitchen, which gives food to those in need.

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