UPDATE (April 22, 9:45 am EST): The Steelers announced this morning that they have indeed picked up Heyward’s fifth year option.
UPDATE (April 21, 4:30 pm EST): The Steelers have not picked up Heyward’s option as of now. Breer has corrected his initial report. They have until May 3 to do so.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, still in need of a defensive end or two prior to the 2014 season, took care of the one they do have on the roster on Monday.
According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the Steelers have picked up their 2015 option on Cameron Heyward.
That buys the Steelers some time, although a long term extension for Heyward should be on the agenda in the near future.
By exercising the option, the Steelers will pay Heyward a base salary of $6.969 million for 2015. That will become guaranteed on the first day of the 2015 season.
Heyward, the 31st overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Ohio State, became a starter for the first-time last season and had a breakout season.
He appeared in 845 total defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus and recorded a career-best 59 tackles with five sacks, as well as recovering his first career fumble.
This was an expected move for the Steelers and a smart move as his 2015 salary is guaranteed right now against injury only.
If the Steelers didn’t exercise the option and would have had to use the franchise tag on Heyward, his salary likely would have been double the amount.
Personally though I would be shocked if Heyward entered the 2015 season without already receiving a long-term extension.