Cam Heyward will find himself climbing up the Pittsburgh Steelers’ leaderboards and history books in 2020. He enters the season with 54 career sacks, currently ranking 6th in franchise history since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
He currently trails 5th place LaMarr Woodley by just three sacks. Here’s the current top five leaderboard:
1. James Harrison – 80.5
2. Jason Gildon – 77
3. Joey Porter – 60
4. Keith Willis – 59
5. LaMarr Woodley – 57
With Heyward in 6th at 54. He’s second all-time for defensive linemen only needing to pass up Willis for top spot. If you’re wondering, Joe Greene is credited with 78.5 unofficial sacks but the stat wasn’t officially tracked until the year after he retired.
Heyward’s had his most productive sack seasons the past few years as he’s entered the prime of his career coupled with a more aggressive, one-gapping Steelers’ front. Over his first six seasons, he averaged just 4.2 sacks a season. But once he remained healthy and cracked the starting lineup full-time, he’s averaged almost ten sacks the past three years.
Few pass rushers are as strong or as ferocious as Heyward. His bull rush has overpowered guards time and time again. That was on display best last season against the Cincinnati Bengals, bullying an overwhelmed offensive line to the tune of 2.5 sacks, three QB hits, and a forced fumble.
Cam Heyward's initial move doesn't work, but then he counters with the long arm. @CamHeyward uses strength, leverage, extension & leg drive to walk the blocker back into the QB & finish with the sack #passrush #steelers #nfltop100 pic.twitter.com/TUTP2vfnnm
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) July 29, 2020
There’s an outside shot Heyward could even threaten for the #1 spot Harrison currently occupies. That would take a lot, basically nine sacks over the next three seasons, but it’s not out of the question either. He should finish no worse than third place in history, a feat he’ll almost certainly accomplish this year.
Of course, the only obstacle to him rising up the ranks is signing another contract. A free agent after the season, odds remain high he’ll work out an extension with the team, but until pen and paper meet, the concern that 2020 will be his last still exists.