The NFL Network claims that its Top 100 Players of XXXX Season list is compiled from the votes among players. If that is the case, then his peers have been routinely underrating Cameron Heyward, who over the past three seasons has been to the Pro Bowl three times for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was named a first-team All-Pro twice.
It was revealed last night that Heyward—purportedly one of only three Steelers who will make the list, the other two surely being T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick—checked in at number 84 o the list, after having been ranked at 88 the year before.
Heyward was not amused—nor was his wife—and both responded to the 31-year-old’s ranking. Responding to a post by Pro Football Focus that pointed out they had him ranked much higher on their own list, he Tweeted, “the hate has been at a all time high! Thank God that we have a season right around the corner. Need to [exorcise] some demons”.
The hate has been at a all time high! Thank God that we have a season right around the corner. Need to exercise some demons. pic.twitter.com/BwFsAkteBq
— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) July 27, 2020
During the 2019 season, Heyward posted a career-high 83 tackles, with 11 for a loss. His nine sacks were the second-most that he has posted in his career, as were his 23 quarterback hits. He also forced a fumble in addition to recovering one, and was credited with six passes batted.
It goes without saying that Heyward’s low ranking is not reflective of a concern about his statistics being a one-year aberration. Since recovering from a season-ending injury in 2016, he has consistently been among the best defensive linemen in the NFL.
During that span of time, he has recorded 29 sacks with 179 tackles, with 37 tackles for loss, and 63 quarterback hits, with four forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, and 12 passes defensed. There isn’t much that he hasn’t done from the position, though admittedly he is still looking for his first career interception (which I imagine Stephon Tuitt brings up—maybe Brett Keisel too), and his first score.
The big man is heading into the final season of his current contract. With training camp opening tomorrow, he and the Steelers would have to get a deal done pretty much today if they planned on having that taken care of in advance.
But there will still be plenty of time between now and the start of the regular season to get an extension in place. The NFL and the NFLPA only in the past few days agreed to set a cap floor of $175 million for the 2021 season, which is an important negotiating point for anybody trying to do a new deal with a player on the final year of his current contract.