Like T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward Poised To Move Up Steelers’ Sack Charts

Cameron Heyward recorded a sack last Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-13 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles. While the sack didn’t help him pass anyone on the Pittsburgh Steelers sack leaderboard, it does get him up to 71 official sacks. 

Ahead of him officially are T.J. Watt with 73, Jason Gildon with 77, and James Harrison who holds the record with 80.5 sacks in the Black and Gold. Obviously, a couple of legendary Steelers are not on this list, but that is because sacks did not become an official stat until 1982. Pro Football Reference has compiled unofficial statistics of sacks dating all the way back to 1960. With these unofficial stats, Joe Greene enters the list at 77.5 and his linemate L.C. Greenwood barely edges him out with 78 sacks in his illustrious career. 

So, including Greene and Greenwood, the Steelers top five sack leaders are Harrison (80.5), Greenwood (78), Green (77.5), Gildon (77), and Watt (73). At the current rate T.J Watt is going, he is going to shatter the Pittsburgh Steelers sack record. Watt is averaging 0.935 sacks a game and is still in the prime of his career. As long as he does not suffer any career ending injuries he should finish with 100+ career sacks. 

However, what is more interesting is to see if, and more likely where, Cam Heyward can finish in the Steelers top five. Heyward needs just 6.5 more sacks to pass Gildon who will likely hold the fifth spot at the end of the season if Heyward does not pass him. In his eleventh year in the NFL, Heyward hasn’t shown too many signs of slowing down. While this year is not his best year by any means, he does not look like a washed player either. Adding T.J. Watt back in the fold defensively should help him see more sack opportunities.  

Heyward averages 0.4 sacks a game for his career, so by multiplying that number by the nine games remaining, it comes out that he should add about 3.5 sacks to his total by the end of the season. If this is the case, Cam Heyward would be at 74.5 sacks by the end of the 2022 NFL season which would not crack him into the top five if Watt also adds to his sack total. 

However, will Heyward play out his contract? He’s getting up in age, by the time week one rolls around next season he will be 34 years old, so this may be his last contract before retiring. If Heyward plays out his deal as a Steeler and then decides to retire, by his current career sacks per game average, he will get 13.5 more sacks which, including the addition of 3.5 sacks from this season we added on, would leave Cam Heyward finishing his career with 88 sacks. This would put him at second overall on the Steelers sack leaderboard if Watt also continues at his pace. 

If Heyward only plays one more year as a Steeler before either getting traded, retiring, or (highly unlikely) cut, he would finish with 81 sacks if we again include the projected 3.5 additional sacks this season. This total of 81 would move him half a sack above the current record holder James Harrison. However, Harrison also spent some of his career on other teams, meaning if Heyward finishes with this total he would not surpass Harrison’s 84.5 career sacks. 

Cameron Heyward has been a cornerstone on this Steelers team for over a decade now. With his career winding down it will certainly be fun to see where this future Steelers Hall-of-Honor member will end up career numbers wise. 

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