‘Steelers Got A Great Guy:’ Alex Highsmith Made Quite An Impression On LaMarr Woodley

Alex Highsmith and LaMarr Woodley met for the first time at the end of April, and they announced the Steelers’ fourth-round pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.

The two were in Guadalajara, Mexico, for a handful of Steelers-related events and their get-together was apparently a long time coming.

“When [Highsmith] first got drafted to the Steelers, Coach [Mike] Tomlin told me about him,” Woodley said. “He has been trying to get me and Highsmith together for years.”

No wonder.

Same position. Same jersey number. Same knack for dropping quarterbacks. Same desire to win rings.

Highsmith picked Woodley’s brain while they were in Mexico and Woodley, who set an NFL record with at least two sacks in four consecutive postseason games (2007-08), appreciated the time he spent with the Steelers’ 2020 third-round draft pick.

“I love Highsmith,” Woodley said. “He’s a good guy, great personality. The Steelers really got a great guy.”

A pretty good player too. The former Charlotte walk-on recorded career-highs in sacks (14.5) and forced fumbles (five) in 2022. His breakout season made him one of the more notable Pro Bowl snubs but also established that the Steelers have two premier pass rushers on the edge.

The rub is that T.J. Watt and Highsmith both have to stay healthy for the Steelers to wreak maximum havoc with their pass rush. There is also the matter of Highsmith’s long-term future with the Steelers.

He is going into the final year of his rookie contract and has positioned himself for a big payday. All signs – from Highsmith taking part in offseason practices to the fact that he will only be 26 at the start of the regular season – point to a long-term deal getting done.

The Steelers have paid top dollar to two outside linebackers before; Woodley and James Harrison are a recent example of that. It is hard to imagine they won’t find a way to pay Highsmith. He has 22.5 career sacks. — or 13.5 more than Chase Young, who was taken 100 picks ahead of Highsmith in the 2020 NFL Draft.

There are always a lot of moving parts in negotiations, especially involving star-caliber players at premium positions. In early April our salary cap expert Dave Bryan outlined a long-term contract that would work for Highsmith and the Steelers.

Highsmith is a high-character guy whose best football is still in front of him. He also wants to stay in Pittsburgh. The Steelers don’t let players like that walk.

That makes the question regarding a new deal with Highsmith more a matter of when than if. And the two sides still have plenty of time with almost three months until the start of the regular season.

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