The Pittsburgh Steelers signed LB Alex Highsmith to a five-year, $70.743 million extension Wednesday that will keep him with the team through the 2027 NFL season. Coming off a breakout 2022 season, expectations are high for the former third-rounder, selected with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. One could argue, however, that expectations aren’t high enough, lining up with superstar T.J. Watt to make up one of the most productive pass-rushing duos in the league.
Watt missed a portion of the 2022 season with a pec injury, but in the 10 games he played with Highsmith, his presence as a pass rusher forced a lot of productivity for Highsmith. Highsmith totaled 11 sacks on 44 quarterback pressures, leading the league with a 17% pressure rate in those 10 games, per Next Gen Stats. Watt’s pass-rushing ability is bar none, leading the league with 77.5 sacks, 162 quarterback hits, and 23 forced fumbles since 2017. Now, Highsmith can enjoy the lenience from opposing offensive lines that comes courtesy of lining up alongside a player like Watt for the years to come.
In comparison to superstars like Joey Bosa ($27 million annual average salary), Khalil Mack ($23.5 million), and Bradley Chubb ($22 million), Highsmith looks like an absolute bargain when it comes to potential production.
After all, there are just four total players in the NFL with 20+ sacks, 25+ tackles for loss, and 5+ forced fumbles over the last two seasons: