Heyward signs for six years

PITTSBURGH – Cam Heyward spent the offseason swatting away questions about his future as the final year of his rookie deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers loomed this fall.

No matter how he was asked, the defensive end always gave a variation of the same answer: “I’m good.”

And now on the eve of training camp, he’s paid.

Heyward agreed to a new six-year contract Thursday worth nearly $60 million that will keep him in Pittsburgh through 2020. The 26-year-old posted a picture of him signing the deal on Twitter with the caption “I love this organization.” He later tweeted “never know how much it means 2 stay a Steeler.”

The Steelers are at the end of a youth movement on a defense that is trying to reinvent itself. Heyward is a key part of the process. He set a career-high in 2014 and tied for the team lead with 7.5 sacks as the Steelers won the AFC North title.

The son of former NFL running back Craig Heyward – who played in college at Pittsburgh – grew up with a special affinity for the Steelers. He understands better than most how the team embraces continuity. Heyward has taken second-year end Stephon Tuitt under his wing.