I don’t know how many more years Cameron Heyward may have left in his playing career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whenever he does go, though, I don’t think it would be too absurd to say that he deserves the same sort of send-off that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got this year in his final game at Heinz Field.
Of course, the quarterback position is uniquely important in the game of football, but as individuals, Heyward is about the most significant presence the Steelers have had in their locker room since they last won a Super Bowl. It’s no surprise that he has consistently been voted captain for years, nor is it a coincidence, for what he brings, routinely, both on and off the field.
Which is why his coaches and teammates so routinely speak so highly of him and sing his praises. He is one of the very best players at his position in football, but he is also much more than that for the leadership and maturity that he brings. T.J. Watt appreciates that as much as anybody.
“Cam’s Mr. Reliable”, he said to Pat McAfee when appearing on his show recently. “He’s been doing it at a high level. I don’t think he gets the respect he deserves. He’s got three first-team All-Pros the last four years or something crazy like that. I don’t even remember the last game he’s missed. Just a guy that is so reliable”.
Of course, he also said that they call him ‘Head’, not just because he is the son of Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, but also because he himself has quite a large head. But the good news is he can take a joke—like when they talk about him being old.
Heyward will be going into year 12 in 2022 at the age of 33. But he is coming off one of the very best seasons of his entire career, logging 89 tackles, including 15 for loss, with 10 sacks, a forced fumble, and nine passes batted, along with an interception.
He has been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of the past five seasons, and has been named All-Pro in the past four, though in 2020 he was on the second-team list. This past year, he became the second defensive lineman in team history to record 10 or more sacks in a season twice, tying Keith Willis.
Heyward signed a four-year contract extension in 2020. He still has three more years left on that deal, though it should be noted that the base salaries skyrocket after this season, nearly tripling from a manageable $6.5 million this year. That doesn’t factor in a $4.5 million roster bonus, however, so his compensation is actually $11 million in 2022.