June 19, 2024

 

Jason Heyward returns to face the CubsSeeing aged icons give way to Father Time is depressing. We saw the intensity evaporate from both Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood. Jack Lambert yields to his superiority. Jack Ham’s knowledge of his field is lost. Franco Harris’s ability. Additionally, Troy Polamalu can no longer be just “Troy.” The list of athletes who have aged and experienced the glories of triumph is endless.

Cam Heyward might soon be joining that club. Before training camp starts, the legendary Steelers player will be 35. He is starting his 14th season as a player. His deal has one year left on it and will count $22.4 million against the Steelers salary limit. If he were released, the team would free about $16 million in cap space.

The three-time All-Pro stated that he will not accept a wage decrease in order to make a comeback. The Steelers are left with two choices: either let Heyward go or extend his contract to lower his cap hit. Even in this day of enormous money and exploding caps, their front staff is aware of the consequences of throwing money down the drain. But, if it thinks he can no longer have an impact, it cannot afford to be emotional.

In2022, Heyward achieved Pro Bowl designation after recording 10.5 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, and 74 tackles—14 of which were for a loss. Up until suffering a groin injury during a 30-7 Week 1 loss to the 49ers, he didn’t appear to be slowing down. After eight weeks, he made a comeback, but his performance was rarely what Steelers supporters had become accustomed to and valued.

He didn’t perform the symbolic pushups that have come to represent his supremacy in any of the 11 games that he participated in. He only recorded six tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits, and two sacks. It’s possible that he never fully recovered from his groin injury, but it doesn’t mean he will and that he will be back.

The Steelers may want to steer clear of this risk unless Heyward is open to renegotiating his contract. While not as useful as he once was, he is still valuable. The $16 million might be used by the team to improve receiver, strong safety, inside linebacker, and center, among other weak spots.

It is obvious that Heyward may have to suffer in order to make these crucial decisions. Both on and off the field, he is a leader and a winner. He is so vicious that his father probably would have thought twice before running after him.

Steelers football is best embodied by Heyward. He’s a teddy bear off the field, but savage on it. He’s a remarkable individual who gives back to his community with the same zeal that he exhibits on game days.

Heyward was chosen by the Steelers with the 31st overall choice in the 2011 draft. By his third year, he was a full-time starter and quickly rose to stardom. His 80.5 sacks, which is impressive for a 3-4 defensive end, tie James Harrison for second place on the Steelers’ all-time list.

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