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Alex Highsmith, Steelers agree to terms on four-year, $68 million extension

Alex Highsmith's breakout season in 2022 is already paying off.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have agreed to terms with the pass rusher on a four-year, $68 million contract extension, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday, per sources. The team has since confirmed the news.

Highsmith, who was entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2023, is now among the top 10 highest-paid pass rushers in the NFL.

"This means everything," Highsmith said moments after signing his new contract, via the team's website. "I know I am a Pittsburgh Steeler through and through, and just to be a part of this amazing organization for four more years means the world to me, to my wife, to my whole family. This is where I want to be. This is where I want to play ball. I am unbelievably grateful. I am super thankful to be here and can't wait to get to work. I am excited.

"This organization, it's the history. Everyone here, it's a top-notch organization. It's an amazing place to play. I love playing on this defense. I love the coaching staff. I love everything about it. I am so thankful to (team president) Mr. (Art) Rooney, (general manager) Omar (Khan) for allowing me to be here for another four years. I am ready to get after it and get to work."

The pay raise comes after Highsmith notched a career-high 14.5 sacks last season, which led the team. The soon-to-be 26-year-old added 63 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 20 QB hits and a league-high five forced fumbles in 2022.

Highsmith really stepped his game up after teammate T.J. Watt suffered a torn pectoral muscle in last year's season-opener. Although the Steelers started racking up losses upon Watt's absence, which was further prompted by a quarterback change in Week 5, Highsmith blossomed into the primary disruptive force for Pittsburgh in the interim. His growth really garnered excitement once Watt returned in Week 10 as the Steelers finished the season with a 7-2 record, nearly making the playoffs.

It's why Highsmith believes the Steelers can have the best defense in the NFL when healthy, and figures to be the reason why Pittsburgh decided to lock in the former third-round pick now.

"I am ready to get going at training camp. I know Steelers Nation will be there in full effect," Highsmith said. "It's here and I am excited. I am ready to get to work."

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