The Steelers and Alex Highsmith have agreed to a 4-year, $68 million extension, locking the star edge rusher up with the team for the future, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Highsmith and the team have been negotiating a deal since the NFL Draft ended and both sides were optimistic that the extension would come to fruition. It seems that now, that is a very real think. The contract comes exactly a week before the Steelers were set to report to Latrobe for training camp, meaning there will be no theatrics here.
Over the structure of the deal, Highsmith will earn $27.7 million in guaranteed money and $38 million over the first two years of the deal. The team locks him up after having a career year across from T.J. Watt in 2022. Now, the Steelers will have their edge rushers bookended for the future with Watt and Highsmith under long-term, lucrative extensions as it stands.
Highsmith had hoped that this would be resolved before training camp. He did not conduct a hold-in or anything of the sort, participating in team drills at OTAs and minicamp. But he was confident from the outset of negotiations that the team would be able to get it done in a timely manner.
“We’ll see what happens,” Highsmith said. “But I’m confident in the way things are going. We’ll see what happens. I just want to be able focus on ball.”
The 25-year-old said he feels that he can improve even beyond his breakout 2022 season, when he posted 14.5 sacks, more than doubling his 2021 total. He took on a leadership role with some of the younger players in the room. Highsmith joined the team in the 2020 NFL Draft and is a core example of the development and retention that the team preaches. After becoming a high-level player, Highsmith has earned his contract and the team should be without another contract to handle before the season.