With 7.5 sacks in 2014, Heyward tied Jason Worilds for the team lead.

With Brett Keisel retired this offseason, along with Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu, the time for Heyward to step up and be the vocal in the locker room has finally come.

That’s massive money, but this is a critical player in this franchise’s future, and he’s anything but the type to disappoint.

“I love this organization!”

Heyward was given the fifth year option earlier this off-season, but the Steelers and Heyward both said that they were open to reaching a deal on an extension.

Heyward is a cornerstone of the defense and unlike a lot of other 3-4 Ends he plays in a reserved defense, meaning his first job is to play the run and take up blockers.

Heyward was drafted with the 31st pick in 2011 by the Steelers.

The team accomplished that Thursday, signing the 26-year-old to a six-year deal that will pay him almost $60 million.

“‘He definitely is next in line”, Tuitt said during minicamp in June. That’s 2012 seventh-round pick Kelvin Beachum who started every game last season and 12 the year before.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. The ultimate goal as a team is to make the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. The former New Orleans Saints defensive end will add a 1-2 punch with Heyward on the ends for the Steelers, which could be one of the most productive duos in the league. As a leader on a defense replacing several starters, Heyward has a chance to put up career numbers in 2015.

As usual, I have five questions on this Friday evening for you to answer in the comments below and I hope that you have some free time to do just that. “The front seven has to dominate and we all have to be a part of it. We have to be interchangeable”.