Will the Pittsburgh Steelers sign outside linebacker Alex Highsmith to a contract extension later this offseason? I certainly think they will and the team’s current cash spending outlook for 2023 indicates that is the plan as well.
Back in January, I went as far as to project what Highsmith’s market value would be for an offseason contract extension and that study produced a new money average of somewhere between $15 and $17.25 million. On the heels of that post, I am now taking a shot at what an extension might look like for Highsmith later this offseason, if it indeed one gets done.
For starters, my new money projection for Highsmith is $15.5035 million and that would currently slot him as the 13th highest-paid edge rusher in the NFL, according to Over the Cap. Additionally, I project that an extension for Highsmith will be for two additional years, which would keep him under contract through the 2025 season and in turn allow him one more potential bite of the proverbial apple ahead of his 30th birthday. If he were willing to do a four-year extension, even better, but my bet is that he and his agent will shoot for just two additional years.
As part of my contract projection for Highsmith on a two-year extension, I have him receiving a signing bonus of $15 million and a new 2023 base salary of $1.25 million, with that also being fully guaranteed. The cash take for Highsmith in 2023, according to my projection, would be $16.25 million, the only fully guaranteed money of the deal.
Such a first-year layout in my projected deal for Highsmith would produce a new 2023 salary cap charge of $6,458,073. Highsmith is already scheduled to have a 2023 salary cap charge of $2,951,073, so that would call for an increase of $3.507 million, which shouldn’t be hard for the Steelers to handle.
As for the 2024 and 2025 years in my contract extension projection, I have Highsmith receiving base salaries of $6.5 million and $5.5 million, respectively, in those two new years. Some of that 2024 money could be guaranteed for injury/skill as part of the language. Additionally, I have him projected for two March roster bonuses in each of those years, $2.5 million, and $3 million, respectively. This layout would produce a $25.25 million cashflow total for Highsmith through 2024 and $33.75 million cashflow total through 2025, the new final year of his deal.
Now, Highsmith is already due $2.743 million in 2023 as part of his old deal so that’s considered old money. When you subtract that amount from $33.75 million, you get a new money total of $31.007 million. When that new money total is divided by two for the two new years, you get his new money average of $15.5035 million, which is how these extensions are calculated.
With Highsmith already being on the books for 2023 with having a planned cash expenditure amount of $2.743 million, his new cash total as part of an extension I laid out would be $16.25 million, an increase of $13.507 million. That would put the Steelers perfectly on track to spend around the $238 million total in cash for 2023 that I previously projected for them.
Once again, this projection is based entirely on Highsmith having a new money average of slightly more than $15.5 million and him signing just a two-year extension. The structure and percentages in this projection for Highsmith all check out based on previous two-year extensions the Steelers have done, the most recent one being with wide receiver Diontae Johnson last summer.
Two-Year Contract Extension Layout For Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith