Alex Highsmith is looking to set a new career-high in sacks this season. Speaking to Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Sirius’ Movin’ The Chains on Monday, Highsmith said he wants to crack double-digits this season.
“I gotta hit those double digit sack markers,” he told the show. “And so I’m just gonna do whatever I can. I’ve been working my butt off this offseason. Just be the best player that I can be. I’m in great shape right now. Feel great…I know the goal that I’ve had for this year, is that 10 to 12 sack mark and just continuing to make plays in the run game.”
Highsmith will need to bring down the quarterback four more times in 2022 to reach that goal. He ended last year with six sacks but got hot towards the end of the year, finishing with three sacks over his final three regular season games. However, he only recorded sacks in four total regular season games so his production came in bunches. A groin injury limited him early in the season and through Week 10, he had just 1.5 sacks. Good health and improved play should translate to a quicker start this season and put him in prime position to hit that goal.
If Highsmith can reach 10+ sacks, it would boost the odds of Pittsburgh’s defense finally hitting the 60-sack mark. Assuming Highsmith gets ten, Cam Heyward matching him, and T.J. Watt 20, that’s 40 sacks from just three players. It would be hard for Pittsburgh not to be the first team to hit 60 since the Carolina Panthers in 2013.
A big season from Highsmith may lead to a big payday next offseason. He’d be entering the final year of his rookie deal next summer, and though the Steelers have tons of money invested in T.J. Watt, it’s possible they could also pay Highsmith. The salary cap will have shot up, Kenny Pickett will still be on his rookie deal, and the Steelers need to maintain a strong and ferocious defense.
From his rookie to sophomore season, Highsmith improved his sack total by four. If he can replicate that sophomore to junior season, he’ll check off his top individual goal.