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Steelers Extend Alex Highsmith Ahead Of 2023 Training Camp

Omar Khan does it again. Last year, Minkah Fitzpatrick got his mega deal right before training camp. This year, Edge rusher Alex Highsmith gets his bag, deservingly so.


The former zero-star recruit out of high school and college walk-on gets paid by the Steelers. He inked his new four-year extension worth $68 million. Not bad for a guy nobody wanted to recruit.


Once a third-round pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith wasn’t sweating the extension. He said back in June he was confident something would get done.


Khan and the Steelers front office didn’t hesitate and did it before the team arrived in Latrobe for training camp. As Khan once said, he doesn’t have time for long, drawn-out negotiations. Right to the point.





Embracing The Culture


Coming into his rookie year, some Steelers fans already were excited to see Highsmith. Clemson Tigers Head Coach Dabo Swinney once said “I kept watching him and going holy cow.” about Highsmith. This got Steelers fans excited. When he got here he was behind Bud Dupree, waiting for his chance.


Highsmith never once seemed frustrated with his role, knowing his place in the defense as a rotational piece until he finally got his shot.


Once Dupree went down with an injury against the Ravens, Highsmith stepped up to the challenge and never looked back, now he’s laughing all the way to the bank.


Highsmith just has Steelers in his blood. A lunch pail guy who shows up and puts his head down. He brings it every day for the Steelers defense, blossoming right in front of their eyes.



Snubbed


Last season, Highsmith should have made the Pro Bowl, his season was overlooked as a whole. Highsmith, like the rest of the defense saw slowed production during TJ Watt’s absence last season.


It’s not easy to recover and keep your defensive identity when you lose the guy who is the identity. But Highsmith kept chugging, posting a whopping five forced fumbles which tied for the lead in the NFL, 14.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 63 combined tackles, 38 of them being solo. He started all 17 games.


In the seven games without Watt, Highsmith posted 3.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and 22 combined tackles, 13 being solo.


While those numbers may not jump off the page, The duo of Watt and Highsmith has combined for 65.5 sacks in three seasons together. Tough to break that up.


Steelers Zigging While Everyone Else Zags


As a whole, the NFL seems to be in an offense-driven era. Teams rely on putting up 24+ points a game and just outscore the opponent to win, not the Steelers. Pittsburgh has elected to do what has served them well in the past and prioritize defense.


The Steeler way. Trying to hold opposing teams under 14-17 points a game, is no easy task in today's NFL. It certainly goes against the status quo in the league currently.


With playmakers like Watt, Highsmith, Cam Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick flying around, it’s a lot for opposing offenses to deal with if they're all on the field and healthy.


Add solid guys like Pat Peterson and Damontae Kazee and young players with high ceilings like Joey Porter Jr. and Keeanu Benton, the sky is the limit for this Steelers defense.




 

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