Pittsburgh Steelers star and captain Cam Heyward confirmed on his podcast, Not Just Football, that he will return for the 2024 season. After not feeling entirely sure of it after the team’s loss to the Buffalo Bills, Heyward bluntly confirmed it. He’s back, and he will let his body rest throughout the offseason to recover from a brutal groin injury that hampered him, even after surgery to repair it.
“I’m not retiring it,” Heyward said. “I hate to be blunt about it, but I’m not retiring. I would like to get my body healthy. You know, I just played an entire season on a freakin’ leg where I could barely run right after the season. It was cool to come back and stuff, and I get that, but you don’t understand what you deal with when you play a full game and your body goes into shock, because it’s like ‘what the hell did you just try to put me through?'”
In addition to that, Heyward basically confirmed that he will not take a pay cut, but he wants to play more than just next year. That opens the door to the obvious extension to lower his $22 million cap hit for next season. It’s something the Steelers are likely going to look into to give them more flexibility.
“I bust my butt in rehab, doing everything,” Heyward said. “I got to let things calm down. Screw the people who keep talking about me getting a pay cut. I don’t plan on playing one more season and I’ll say that right here, but I got to let my body heal and I got to get my body back to feeling good again. I’m not going through this season doing this stuff again. It’s not fair to my body, it’s not fair to my family for me to do what I did do this past year and try to do it for multiple seasons.”
After the game and the following day, Cam Heyward dove into his injury details, stating that he completely tore his adductor muscle off the bone, requiring surgery. He pushed a 12-week timeline to just seven weeks. It’s a remarkable recovery time, but Heyward was still banged-up for the rest of the season, and needs time to let his body heal after the season.
Heyward said that in addition to the groin and core muscle surgeries, he also suffered another groin injury and had a knee issue that kept him from practicing fully throughout almost the entire season after his return.
“I had my groin, then overcompensating with my other groin,” he said. “There was stuff on top of that my knee. It was a grind just to get ready for each game. It wasn’t by choice that I didn’t want to practice. It was ‘get me to the game.’ I don’t like that doing that. I don’t like playing football that way. I don’t ever want to cheat the game. I don’t ever want to think I’m not going to be 100%. But that was the cards I was dealt this year. It was a lot.”
Heyward will come back and should give the Steelers a boost to their defensive line room, but it seems unlikely his cap hit will stick at north of $22 million. Along with T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the three accumulate nearly a third of the team’s overall cap. Heyward can be flexible by extending his contract, especially since he thinks he might play more than just one more year.