UNITY TWP., Pa. — Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton was one of the few players whose attendance at the team’s 2019 training camp at St. Vincent College was not guaranteed.
But the 25-year-old signed his free agent tender “five minutes” before walking into the doors of Rooney Hall to report to the Steelers.
His one-year tender was valued at $645,000 and will make him a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
An exclusive-rights free agent is a unique situation for NFL players that happens when former undrafted players become free agents before their rookie contract would have expired, had they been drafted.
That means the only leverage Hilton had was to refuse to sign his tender, not report to camp and hope for a long-term contract extension. That wasn’t something that he was willing to do.
“I wanted to show the team that I’m here,” Hilton said after reporting to camp on Thursday. “I did that by showing up and signing.”
He still wants that long-term contract extension, though, and he said his goal this training camp is to prove that he’s worth it. The Steelers don’t typically negotiation contract extensions during the regular season, so he has a month to get that extension he’s looking for.
“That’s something that has to be discussed with my agent, of course, but I’m trying to show all the signs that I want to be here long term,” Hilton said. “Hopefully, something will work out in the end.”
He confirmed that his agent and the Steelers have been in contact and said “the idea is in the air, so that’s a plus.”
Hilton’s signing will have a minimal effect on the Steelers salary cap situation because during the offseason, only the top 51 salaries are counted. Hilton’s salary will only cost a little under $2,000 more than the player he bumped out of the top 51.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/18/20
James Conner tested out his injured ankle and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Chase Claypool during practice on Friday, September 18, 2020.
This practice was in preparation for the Steelers week 2 game on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Cam Heyward Named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has been named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1.
Heyward was honored for installing his first Little Free Library, a book-sharing box placed in underserved communities around the Pittsburgh area.
Congrats to @camheyward on being named Week 1 #CommunityMVP for installing his first Little Free Library. The book-sharing boxes provide 24-7 access to literacy for underserved Pittsburgh communities while honoring the legacy in education of his late grandfather. pic.twitter.com/uKwbnz28A1— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 18, 2020
Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
The installation of the book-sharing boxes marks the launch of the Rufus and Judy Jordan Literacy Project, a new initiative of the Cameron Heyward Foundation that will work to promote children’s literacy and honor his late grandparents, both of whom were lifelong educators in Pittsburgh.
Drafted in first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward has spend his entire career in Pittsburgh. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, and has twice received First-Team All-Pro honors.
Heyward and the Steelers agreed to a four-year, $71.4 million contract extension on Sept. 6 that will allow him to retire in Pittsburgh and make him the highest-paid defense player over the age of 30 in NFL history.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/17/20
The Steelers finally experienced a practice with almost everyone on the roster able to take the field. Only two players did not take part in practice before their week 2 game against Denver.
Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick stood out from the rest on Thursday, September 17, 2020.