Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast

Looking at the numbers of Alex Highsmith’s newly signed contract

On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to terms on a contract for Alex Highsmith which will keep him in Black and Gold through the 2027 season. The contract has been presented a couple different ways with neither being incorrect with the value of the contract. Although the original report with the sources coming from Highsmith’s agents being a four-year extension worth $68 million, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the contract as a five-year deal.

So which one is it?

When it comes to the contract numbers, Highsmith is reportedly going to be paid $70.743 million over five years. With Highsmith due a base salary of $2.743 million in 2023, the additional $68 million over four years could be viewed as an extension. On the other hand, Highsmith is getting paid his signing bonus right now which factors into that $68 million.

When looking at it from a “new money” standpoint, the extension for Highsmith comes in at $17 million per season. If looking at other edge rushers who are paid in this range, there are two that have an average per year (APY) salary of $17.5 million in the New Orleans Saints’ Cameron Jordan and Tennessee Titans’ Harold Landry. As for others at $17 million, it includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Shaquil Barrett and Chandler Jones of the Las Vegas Raiders.

But another perspective in looking at the deal which fans may have seen reported is around the $14.1 million per season range. If you’re looking at what Highsmith is going to be paid from 2023 through 2027, it is $70.743 million which averages out to $14.1486 million per season. Comparing that to the APY of edge rushers in 2023, it would come in behind Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings at $14.4 million and ahead of the Denver Broncos’ Randy Gregory at $13.9 million.

What I find interesting is although it is the exact same deal, perception of the contract goes a long way. For Highsmith and his agents, they perceive the $17 million per season deal as Highsmith was going to play this season for $2.743 million regardless. As for the Steelers, they feel they have Highsmith, the player who was ranked sixth in the NFL in sacks in 2022, locked in for five years at just over $14 million. In looking at it from a fan perspective, this seems to be quite the fair deal.

When it comes to the salary cap implications for this deal, nothing has been officially reported with a specific breakdown of Highsmith’s contract at this time. While it has been reported that $27.7 million is guaranteed, there hasn’t been an exact formula when it comes to Steelers contracts under Omar Khan to apply. Although it appears that Highsmith’s $2.743 million salary he was said to make this year is now guaranteed along with an additional $25 million, it’s uncertain if the Steelers bumped over any of that base salary and included it in the signing bonus. This is also assuming that all the rest of the guaranteed money is in the form of a signing bonus and not in any other form of salary for year two.

To give an estimated guess as to Highsmith’s salary cap hit for 2023, I would put the low end at more than $6.5 million and the high end at just under $8 million. With Highsmith already set to count $2,951,073 against the salary cap before signing his deal according to, this would be an increase of somewhere between $3.6 million and $5 million above his previous number and would cut the Steelers cap space by that amount.

When the exact numbers of Alex Highsmith’s deal are reported, check here at the Steel Curtain Network for a salary cap update.

For more information on Highsmith’s contract, be sure to check out the BREAKING NEWS podcast in the player below:

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