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Cam Heyward wants a new contract, but he needs to look at it from the Steelers’ perspective

Cam Heyward wants, and deserves, a new contract, but he needs to realize he might have to wait.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

“June or July, but if we can get something done earlier, I would love it,” Cam Heyward said.

Yeah, that is an actual quote from Heyward regarding his contract needs. He wants a new contract, but says he wants a deal before summer. Heyward might be in for a rude awakening on getting an extension at all in 2020.

“They’ve done right by me so far, and I want to continue to do them right.” Again, another quote from Heyward. The Steelers have done right for their two time All-Pro, to the tune of $65,955,028 over 10 seasons — 99 games, 54 sacks, five fumble recoveries, six forced fumbles, 30 pass deflections, and 397 total tackles.

“I want to make sure as them being my employer and them being my family, you always want to make sure that you represent your family well.” Of course the Steelers are going to take care of one of their valued family members, just like the team has done with countless other members over the years in the Kevin Colbert era. But Cam, if you really care about your Steelers family, wait until 2021 to push for an extension. You can say all the right words, but they don’t add any salary cap bucks to the Steelers’ 2020 salary cap. The team is actually in the negative heading into the new league year.

Heyward will be 31 by the start of the 2020 season.That’s not old by NFL defensive end terms. Being too old is not a concern. His productivity and ability to dominate during a game aren’t concerns, either. The concern is that the Steelers are broke at a time when they can’t dig themselves out of their normal kicking-the-can practices. Pushing the problem down the road into another year by restructuring huge numbers of contracts is not on the table due to the 30 percent rule in the last year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

NFL players and their agents know full well where NFL teams’ finances stand. An agent’s job is to know what a team can and will do for a player. So Heyward talking about wanting a new deal right now is unrealistic unless he takes a team-friendly deal. (The Steelers are currently $1.43 million under the cap.)

Stephon Tuitt is the sixth-highest paid 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. No Steelers fan will confuseTuitt for Heyward in terms of their production or the number of games they’ve played. (Tuitt has missed 16 games in the past three seasons.) Heyward is under contract in 2020 for $1.5 million less than Tuitt. Technically Heyward will make $9.5 million this season, but he counts $13,251,250 against the NFL salary cap. Is Heyward the superior player? Absolutely, but he needs to wait until 2021 to receive the contract that he deserves.

Heyward will eventually need a better contract. Steelers fans need to quit with the pipe dream that any of the team’s players are going to take hometown discounts in a $16 billion business when the face of the franchise, Ben Roethlisberger, ($30 million over three years) refused to do so.

Sure, the Steelers could sign Ironhead’s son to a long-term deal, and the deal could actually save the Steelers some cap space in 2020, but what could it cost the team in future seasons? Could signing Heyward to a market-value deal cost them the ability to sign Bud Dupree and other free agents? Read the quotes above again and then ask yourself if Cam should be asking for a contract in June, July, or March — or if he shouldn’t expect one until 2021.