Now that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has his new contract done and we wait for all of the specific numbers to surface, it’s time to look ahead at other deals that are likely to get done between now and the start of the 2015 regular season.
While it might not happen until training camp gets underway, Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward is almost certain to get a new deal prior to the start of the season. Heyward is currently scheduled to earn $6.969 million in 2015 after having his fifth-year option picked up last offseason. In all probability, Heyward’s 2015 cap charge should lower some when that new contract is in place.
Heyward was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. The defensive end has recorded 143 regular season tackles and 15 sacks in his first four years in the league to go along with 12 passes defensed.
In addition to Heyward getting a new deal this offseason, tackle Kelvin Beachum should be in line for one as well. Beachum received a nice raise this season after qualifying for a Proven Performance Escalator during his first three years in the league. Hitting that escalator means that Beachum will earn a base salary of $1.542 million in 2015.
Beachum is everything that you want in a Steelers player and he can play all five positions on the offensive line to boot. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of SMU and in the 33 regular season games that he’s started, his last 28 have come at left tackle.
So what about guard David DeCastro, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract? Being as he is a former first-round draft pick, the Steelers can pick up his fifth-year option just as they did last offseason with Heyward. I would expect that formality to be done sometime in late April and that will then mean that DeCastro will be in line for a new deal next offseason.
While not guaranteed to happen, Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon is yet another player who could receive a new deal prior to the start of the 2015 season. What happens in the 2015 NFL Draft may go a long way in determining whether or not that ultimately happens. McLendon is only 29 and he’s started 22 games since coming into the league with the Steelers in 2009 as an undrafted free agent out of Troy.
Should Mclendon wind up not getting a new deal this offseason, he will become an unrestricted free agent at this same time next year. He is currently scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.25 million in 2015.
Depending on whether or not the Steelers think they will need more cap space for the 2015 season, there’s still an outside chance that they sign one or all three of their tendered restricted free agents to new three-year deals as well. Those three players are cornerback Antwon Blake, safety Robert Golden and fullback Will Johnson, and currently the trio is each scheduled to earn $1.542 million in 2015. If any are ultimately given new deals, those contracts will likely include minimum base salaries in all three years and a one million signing bonus. A contract with those numbers would lower their individual cap charges for the upcoming season.