Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com previously mentioned that addressing Heyward’s contract would be a cost-effective move for Pittsburgh in the long run.
Doing so would, obviously, cost Pittsburgh more upfront now, but Heyward is an ascending player who has already said publicly that he would like to remain with the Steelers for the rest of his career.
The Steelers have a history of negotiating long-term term deals for players entering the final year of their rookie agreements. However, Bouchette seems to think Heyward may end up being the only player who’s currently in the final year of his contract to receive an extension this summer, which is interesting given the number of players entering a contract year.
This list includes: LT Kelvin Beachum, OT Mike Adams, G Ramon Foster, NT Steve McLendon, CB William Gay, DE Cam Thomas, DE Clifton Geathers, QB Bruce Gradkowski, FB Will Johnson, LB Sean Spence, S Will Allen, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and LS Greg Warren.
Pittsburgh elected to pick up Heyward’s fifth-year option, which will run them $6.969 million for the 2015 season. This salary is only guaranteed for injury and won’t prevent them from negotiating a long-term contract.
Heyward, 26, appeared in all 16 games and totaled 59 tackles, five sacks and a fumble recovery for the Steelers. Pro Football Focus rated him as the No. 18 defensive end in 3-4 defense last season.
We’ll have more regarding a potential contract extension for Heyward as the news is available.