The Pittsburgh Steelers and defensive end Cam Heyward are no closer to agreeing to a long-term contract extension, according to the star’s agent.
Speaking with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Heyward’s agent Michael Perrett of Element Sports Group divulged that the team and his client have made no significant advances towards a new deal.
Perrett reaffirmed that Heyward still wants to retire as a Steeler, but acknowledged that COVID-19 has made the path to an agreement more challenging.
“I thought we’d be further along in the process. In a normal year, we might be,” he told ESPN. “The current situation has led to a lot of uncertainty, but NFL business is still moving forward. Cam would love to retire a Steeler, but at this point, he just doesn’t know how all of this is going to play out.”
According to Fowler, Heyward is not considering holding out, mainly because of his position in the team as a captain and player rep.
Heyward, 31, is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in 2019. With nine sacks, eleven tackles-for-loss and 23 quarterback hits, Heyward earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors a year ago. His 79 tackles-for-loss are the fourth-most in franchise history.
While other high-profile pass rushers have signed new deals this offseason, including the Chiefs’ Chris Jones, the Browns’ Myles Garrett and the Chargers’ Joey Bosa, Heyward still waits.
Even though the Steelers tend to avoid in-season contract negotiations and little progress has been made thus far, the two sides still have the month of August to work out a deal.
Still, if they are not able to get something prior to the season opener, you would think the organization would make an exception for Heyward, considering his desirable combination of leadership and ability.
He has remained consistent that he wants to retire in Pittsburgh. The Steelers would be wise to make his wish a reality.
Steelers One of Three Teams with No Opt-Outs
With the expiration of today’s 4 p.m. deadline, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of just three teams to have no players opt-out of the 2020 season, along with the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers.
Speaking with the media Thursday morning, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin expressed his confidence that none of his players would be choosing to sit this year out. Evidently, he was right.
Pittsburgh currently has three players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in running back Jaylen Samuels, wide receiver James Washington and cornerback Justin Layne. It is unknown whether they have actually tested positive for the virus, or are simply on the list as a precaution because of potential exposure.
66 players across the league have opted out of the 2020 season thus far, the majority of them offensive linemen. The New England Patriots have been hit hardest by opt-outs, losing eight players, including starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
The Cleveland Browns have had the most among AFC North teams at five, with four of the opt-outs coming from offensive linemen.
Players that opt-out because of medical concerns are entitled to a $350,000 stipend, while those that voluntarily choose to forego the 2020 season will receive a $150,000 salary advance, expected to be paid back next year.
While the Steelers did dodge a bullet by having no opt-outs, Tomlin did express doubts that the NFL season will be able to go off safely and without a hitch.
“I don’t know that I’m extremely confident,” he told the media Thursday. “I respect the challenges that the circumstances have presented to the other leagues, some of which we are witnessing. We’re all proceeding with caution and working extremely hard not to become part of that.”
Mike Tomlin: No Steeler Opting Out, Not Confident in Safe Season
Mike Tomlin spoke with members of the media, including Mike Asti of Steelers Now, to discuss how his team is preparing for the season in the midst of COVID-19.
Tomlin mentioned no Steelers player is planning to opt out, but that he also can’t say he’s confident the NFL will be able to get through a safe 2020 season.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 8/5/20
Lineman work on drills and receivers, including Chase Claypool, practice running routes during Steelers practice at Heinz Field on August 5, 2020.