The Steelers have extended Cameron Heyward’s rookie contract to a 5th year Tuesday morning. The 2011 NFL Draft was the first in which the new rookie wage scale was adopted which provides teams with the options of extending their first round picks’ initial contract for an extra season.
Typically, a rookie’s contract is for four years. In the new rookie wage scale that was installed with the new CBA, those four-year contracts all come with options, for the first round draft picks only. Teams have until May 3rd to exercise their option. The top 10 draft picks will get a salary equal to the league’s transition tag amount for that 5th year while the rest of the round’s worth of picks get an increase. The money is only guaranteed for injury so the extension for teams is relatively low-risk, as long as that player has become a solid starter.
For the Steelers, Cam Heyward has finally emerged to being considered a solid starter as of last season. Heyward started 13 games last season, after never recording a start in his two previous seasons, and had 59 tackles with 5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
The move is pretty smart for the Steelers to do considering their defensive line is still rather depleted following the departure of free agents. It’s still up in the air whether or not the team will re-sign Brett Keisel but not having to deal with Heyward becoming a free agent next season will give them some piece of mind while this defensive line is rebuilt and/or reloaded. Now Heyward won’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season as opposed to following this year’s season.
What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation? Do you like the Steelers exercising the option to extend Heyward’s contract for another year?