Cam Heyward Retirement: Will Steelers’ 6x Pro Bowl DT play again next NFL season?

Cam Heyward, the seasoned Pittsburgh Steelers star, has to decide whether he wants to continue in the NFL or get retired. His contract is about to end but he might want to expand his NFL career. Despite his resolute mindset, Heyward faces the challenge of a divergent agenda from his body, evident in the toll taken during the recent 13th season.

This internal conflict emerged following the Steelers’ playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, sparking uncertainty about whether Monday’s defeat marked the conclusion of Heyward’s remarkable 13-year journey in the NFL.

Is Cam Heyward going to play next NFL season? 

Cam Heyward, the star and captain of the Pittsburgh Steelers, confirmed on his podcast, Not Just Football, that he will play in the upcoming 2024 NFL season.

The DT initially had some uncertainty about his return after the team’s playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. Despite the initial uncertainty, Heyward bluntly confirmed his return, stating unequivocally that he is coming back for the 2024 season.

“I’m not retiring it,” Heyward said. “I hate to be blunt about it, but I’m not retiring.”

He mentioned that he will allow his body to rest throughout the offseason to recover from a severe groin injury that affected him during the previous season.

“I would like to get my body healthy. You know, I just played an entire season on a freakin’ leg where I could barely run right after the season. It was cool to come back and stuff, and I get that, but you don’t understand what you deal with when you play a full game and your body goes into shock because it’s like ‘what the hell did you just try to put me through?’”

The DT conveyed his love for playing football, stating, “I love playing football, I want to play football. I’m not retiring.”

What’s Cam Heyward’s contract with Steelers?

Cameron Heyward, one of the best defensive tackles, signed a four-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 7th, 2020. The extension is valued at $65.6 million in new money, with $20.25 million guaranteed at signing.

The DT received a substantial $17.5 million signing bonus at signing. Additionally, he obtained a $2.75 million roster bonus on September 11, 2020. The roster bonus was treated as a signing bonus since the contract was executed after what would have been the last preseason game.

The DT’s cap numbers increasing by $2.356 million in each of the additional years of his contract after he converted $9.4 million of his salary into signing bonus earlier in 2021.

Cam Heyward
Via MLive.com

Heyward is set to count $22.3 million against the cap in the 2024 season. This cap hit is considered high, especially when combined with the cap hits of T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, comprising nearly a third of the team’s overall cap.

To address the high cap hit, the Steelers may consider extending Cam Heyward’s contract for one year, potentially spreading out the cap impact. There is also the possibility of exploring the retirement option.

If Heyward was to be released, the Steelers could save $16 million against the cap. This decision would be influenced by factors such as the DT’s age (soon to be 35), recent major injury, and a perceived decline in performance during the previous season.

The Steelers historically avoid recouping portions of signing bonuses, as seen in their reluctance with Troy Polamalu almost a decade ago. The team is exploring options to manage this matter, considering contract extension, retirement, or the possibility of retaining Cam Heyward with a high salary.

Maheen Zaib

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Maheen is a writer for SportsZion. She's your go-to for all things NFL, from epic game highlights to trade scoops and breaking news. Navigating the sports scene with flair, join her on this thrilling journey through the NFL's wild ride. Let's score some great reads together!

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