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Steelers Likely To Wait Until May To Exercise Cameron Heyward’s Fifth-Year Option

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward had a breakout year in 2013 and with 2014 currently scheduled to be the final year of his rookie contract, the team will have to decide by May 3rd whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option that came into existence with the new CBA agreement in 2011.

Being as Heyward was drafted 31st overall in 2011, his option year amount will be the average of the 25 highest-paid players at his position, with the top three excluded, according to Pro Football Talk. Early estimates have that number coming in north of $8.4 million for defensive ends.

Should the Steelers decide not to exercise Heyward’s fifth-year option come May, the Ohio State product would then become an unrestricted free agent next offseason if a new long-term extension is not agreed upon beforehand.

Exercising the option is sort of like a pre franchise tag, however, it is only guaranteed for injury until the first day of the 2015 new league year, per the CBA.

There is no reason to think that the Steelers won’t exercise Heyward’s option, but they will likely wait until the last minute to do it, just in case the defensive end were to suffer some sort of freak injury during the offseason. Once it is exercised, the two sides will likely work on getting a long-term extension done following the 2014 season. That would lock Heyward up for several years and lower his 2015 cap hit in the process.

In short, Heyward’s not going anywhere.

Moving forward from there, guard David DeCastro, would be the next former first-round draft pick that will need his fifth-year exercised following the 2014 season.

Fifth-year options only apply to first-round draft picks.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    It would be nice to have him in the fold with a manageable cap number going forward. This year is the year where they have some negotiating power. You don’t want to be in a position where you need to pay him $8M/ year. There are only a handful of guys making that money at DE who skew the average for the top 25.

    Of their young players on their first contract, he jumps out the most as a potential big time player.I think that this extension needs to be a high priority.

  • Mike Carroll

    Definitely agree. Heyward represents the Steelers best opportunity to secure a long-term, foundation-type defensive player with a sensible deal that benefits both the team and the player. I think there is a decent chance it happens.

  • Sabbie

    They need to get him signed long term sooner than later as it appears that his value in the open market will surely increase.

  • David Edward

    Agree that it would be wise to try to get him locked up to a long term deal this offseason. I have a feeling his market value will rise considerably over the next year. After they cut Woodley June 1 (as I always mention), that would be a good time to work out a deal with Cam.

  • steeltown

    Some might disagree but in addition to Heyward they should strongly consider getting Cortez Allen locked up sooner than later, I have a feeling he will flourish as a full time starter this upcoming year.. and as Lewis before him, will then come with a higher price tag once becoming UFA in 2015

  • Aric Brown

    gotta agree with you there… at times he looked downright awful, but he also has shown good heart and flashes of a good CB… we can roll the dice now and lock him up at a pretty cheap price of a #2 corner… or we can roll the dice later and have him breakout and command a #1 corner price and be playing football somewhere else

  • steeltown

    He has struggled with some injuries but that’s the only concern I have, he looks legit, he missed 2games and in nearly half of the games he did play in he saw maybe 50-60% of the defensive snaps and he still ended the season with more INTs and PDs than Ike or WillieG.. look at the last 5games of the season when he was playing the majority of the snaps he racked up 25tackles and 8 PDs

  • Ken

    Agreed, we are so close to completely starting over in our secondary. Clark, Polamalu, Gay, and Ike. I consider Clark gone. The other 3 maybe one more year… We need Cortez around and we need to draft corners. On Heyward – i’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player make that kind of progress after being here for a few years already. We need him for a long time.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I strongly agree that the Steelers should be considering the extension this year. I have not seen enough out of his play to know if they should or shouldn’t do it, but the Steelers should know that answer based on the sum of information they have which includes his practice, workout and meeting habits, in addition to what we see on the field.

  • Sabbie

    He and Worilds were the pass rush. Heyward excelled in run support as well. He never seems to be on the injury report. Sign him.

  • Aric Brown

    I’m not sure what the numbers are, but if Woodley is a June 1st release, you gotta think that could potentially free up enough money to lock up Cam and Cortez… and just on a side note from an earlier discussion we were having… Troy Polamalu is set to make what both Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor make combined next year… hopefully the Steelers can use this as a bargaining chip for a paycut

  • Aric Brown

    Nice of you to join us… its a bit different over here than what we’re used to.. but it works

  • Callentown

    I agree that he is a starter, but I don’t see him or Gay playing the #1 spot without help – ever.

    Lock him up, but not at top tier prices. To this point, while he passed Brown by a good margin, he hasn’t shown #1 potential and could not regain his starting spot after coming back.

    Maybe he’s a December gamer. I recall last year he had his best games at the end of the year also. I can live with that as a #2.

  • Aric Brown

    I think hes a quality #2 right now with the potential to be a playmaking #1… which is why it would be smart to try and lock him in a mid-market #2 value

  • Callentown

    Based on what we have seen – recall he was supposed to be the starter in place of Lewis this year – I don’t see it. I wouldn’t give him the quality #2 status just yet.

    But what a great surprise it would be if he suddenly ‘gets it’ and plays at a level we need to cover the A.J. Greens of the division.

  • Aric Brown

    The good thing about Heyward is he has a history in Pittsburgh… He reportedly prayed he would slip all the way to the Steelers in the draft


    By far our best CB. Not sure anyone would disagree with you.


    He’s the best CB on our team right now not sure what football team you have been watching.

  • Mike Carroll

    Definitely agree. I think extending Cortez is a priority for the same reasons as with Heyward. Both represent great opportunities to invest in the future of the defense at rates that make sense. I think there’s a decent chance both extensions happen.

  • steeltown

    Keep in mind Earl Thomas is still in his rookie contract, in two yrs he’ll be making more than Troy at the moment

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