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Predicting Cam Heyward’s next Steelers’ contract

If the Steelers come up with a new contract for their veteran defensive lineman, what would it look like?

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 offseason has progressed appropriately since the beginning of the league year. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, the Steelers were able to restructure contracts, offer tenders, use the franchise tag, sign free agents, make their draft selections, and get their undrafted rookie free agents under contract. With a focus on getting their draftees under contract in the coming weeks, the Steelers will also be looking to sign some players to either a new contract or a contract extension.

While some of these new deals may not come until the summer, it’s not out of the question for player representatives and the Steelers to be working on something now. With that said, which Steelers going into the last year of the current deal are likely to be given a new contract before the 2020 season begins?

Rather than focus on all the players, let’s tackle one at a time. With each player, it will first be determined if they should receive a new deal along with how much would be a fair contract to both parties. This exercise is meant to just be fun and speculative as we all get to play general manager and salary cap guru for a day.

If you wish to give a basic contract answer without diving too deep into numbers, simply skip over the italicized section. If you are the kind of person who would like to see how the contract would affect the salary cap, here it is...

Coming up with an exact contract can be tricky. Rather than get into roster and work out bonuses or different amounts per season, we’re going to estimate the salaries as simply as possible. For whatever deal the player gets, the first year will have all but $1 million put into a signing bonus which will get spread over the life of the contract. For example, if a player were to sign a three-year contract for $10 million per year, the first year would have a $1 million base salary and a $9 million signing bonus. Therefore, the bonus would be spread out to $3 million over each season where the player would count $4 million dollars for 2020 and $13 million for the other two years.

One other factor which needs to be considered is if the player brings any dead money from the previous contract. To account for this in a simple manner, throw it into the salary cap hit for the first year of the players deal. Using the above example, if a player had $4 million in dead money on their last contract, the salary cap hit for their first year would be $8 million.

Now let’s see what kind of deal Steelers fans’ would like to offer Cam Heyward before the 2020 season.

Cameron Heyward

Age: Turning 31 on Wednesday
Years: 9
Draft: 1st Round, pick 31 in 2011
Previous Contract: 5 years, $10.46 million average per year (APY)
2020 salary cap hit: $13.25 million
Dead Money: $3.75 million

Other contracts (AYP) at the position (3-4 DE) according to

Aaron Donald: $22.5 million
J.J. Watt: $16.7 million
Leonard Williams: $16.126 million (franchise tag)
Kawann Short: $16.1 million
Jurrell Casey: $15.1 million
Stephon Tuitt: $12 million

Notes: Although now officially listed as a defensive tackle, Heyward‘s contract is listed as a 3-4 defensive end on OTC. In looking at the list of players at the position, it seems appropriate for Heyward to be placed in this group. Ranked as the number two defensive interior lineman according to Pro Football Focus in 2019, Heyward was only behind Aaron Donald. Although Donald has a hefty price tag, it would be difficult for Heyward to believe he would be worth as much on a contract which begins after he turns 31. So not only will the total dollar amount come into play due to age, so will the number of years.

So now it’s deal time! Perhaps the first question should be a completely different game show: Deal or no deal? Should the Steelers look to extend Cam Heyward this offseason? If so, what should the deal look like? Please leave your response with the number of years and the average salary per season in the comments below.

Next time on Let’s Make A Deal: Bud Dupree.