Steelers Should Prioritize Extension With EDGE Alex Highsmith

Alex Highsmith, Steelers
NFL Analysis Network

Throughout the history of their franchise the Pittsburgh Steelers have been known for vaunted pass rushers. They have churned out some of the best pass rushers that the NFL has ever seen and the current version of the Steelers is no different.

Defensive tackle Cam Heyward remains a game-changer in the middle of the team’s defensive line. Flanking him at pass rusher is T.J. Watt, the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.

Those two are the centerpiece of the Steelers’ pass rush and have been for years. Eventually, other players will have to step up and take over that mantle. Smart money could be on linebacker Alex Highsmith.

The 2020 third-round pick out of Charlotte had a breakout season in 2022, registering a team-high 14.5 sacks. He was a big reason that the Steelers were able to stay afloat last season when Watt dealt with an injury. 

Having him coming off the edge opposite of Watt, with Heyward in the middle, drives opposing offensive play callers crazy trying to figure out how to slow that trio down. It is a trio that the Steelers should do everything in their power to keep together for as long as possible as Highsmith heads into the final year of his rookie contract.

That is why Highsmith was mentioned as the player that the Steelers need to work out an extension with the most before the offseason is over by Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report. There have already been attempts at working out a deal, but details have been sparse.

“The team has engaged with Highsmith’s representation, but Highsmith has been coy on the exact progress between the two sides,” ESPN’s Brooke Pryor wrote.

The coyness being shown by Highsmith isn’t a surprise. He doesn’t want to lose any leverage in negotiations, but he is someone that Pittsburgh should be doing all they can to complete a deal with. Pass rushers are always in demand and one with the talent of Highsmith should demand a large sum of money.

Coming off of a 14.5 sack season, it is easy to see why the Charlotte product could look to cash in now. That is a lot of production that won’t be easy to replicate. However, if he gets close to that number again, his price tag will go up even more.

Finding a sweet spot that makes both sides happy should be attainable. The Steelers have always done well compensating their players who earn it and Highsmith should be next in line for a nice extension.

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