PITTSBURGH, PA — The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of contract negotiations with outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, and there’s some expectation a deal gets done before training camp. But one outlet believes there’s a chance he ends up on the move.
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox recently released his top three trade candidates for the Steelers. Alongside tight end Zach Gentry and offensive guard Kevin Dotson, star linebacker Highsmith’s name was dropped as maybe the team’s biggest trade asset.
“While the Steelers tend to do a good job of keeping their own players, there’s no guarantee that they can retain Highsmith if he reaches 2024 free agency. Pittsburgh is already projected to be $6.7 million over the cap next year. And Highsmith would undoubtedly bring a spicy trade package back if he’s dealt to a pass-rusher-needy team. He’s young, he’s productive, and he’s set to carry a cap hit of just under $3 million this season. Virtually any contender would be happy to land Highsmith, and a high Day-2 draft selection would likely be his value floor,” Knox writes.
Knox does write he believes the Steelers should try to get a deal done with Highsmith before moving on to trade talks.
The fourth-year linebacker is coming off his best season as a pro, recording 14.5 sacks and a league-leading five forced fumbles in 2022. According to Spotrac, Highsmith’s market value is four years, $55.6 million. That deal would make him the 12th-highest-paid outside linebacker in the NFL.
Chances are the Steelers will try to make a deal work before the season, but even if they don’t, it’s hard to imagine they’d be willing to move on from Highsmith before the end of the season. With the defense primed for a big year, and T.J. Watt healthy heading into training camp, Pittsburgh is looking for something special out of their linebackers – which depends heavily on Highsmith.