PITTSBURGH — On the eve of the first regular-season week, the Pittsburgh Steelers secured their defensive anchor for at least five more years with a historic contract.
The Steelers and All-Pro defensive lineman Cameron Heyward have finalized a five-year, $75.1 million extension, a league source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler late Sunday night. The monster contract yields the highest per-year average for any defensive player over the age of 30 in NFL history.
The deal includes the last year of Heyward’s current contract and has $65.6 million in new money.
A 2011 first-rounder, Heyward, 31, is entering his 10th season with the Steelers coming off a nine-sack, Pro Bowl season. The Ohio State product, a starter for the past seven seasons, has 54 career sacks and 117 quarterback hits.
Heyward seemingly tweeted confirmation of the deal Sunday night, posting a video of his head superimposed on Leonardo DiCaprio’s in a famous scene from “The Wolf of Wall Street” in which DiCaprio’s character proclaims he isn’t leaving. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Maurkice Pouncey and T.J. Watt also are photo-edited into the clip.
A defensive captain and the team’s NFL Players Association player rep, Heyward was vocal about his desire to stay in Pittsburgh throughout the offseason and grew noticeably frustrated as the window for the team to sign him to an extension got smaller.
The Steelers have a long-standing policy of not negotiating deals during the regular season, and the coronavirus pandemic slowed talks between the two sides during the summer.
“Y’all know where I stand,” Heyward said on Aug. 17. “I want to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and lead this team to a Super Bowl. We’ll see where we are. I love my team. I love my teammates. I love this city and the coaches. I love being a Pittsburgh Steeler. You have to take two to tango. I want to be here. We just have to see what happens.”
What happened was an extension that keeps the Pittsburgh native in his hometown for at least five seasons.