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Highsmith signed to new five-year contract

The Steelers signed outside linebacker Alex Highsmith to a new five-year contract.

"This means everything," said Highsmith just moments after signing his contract. "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.

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

Highsmith, the team's third round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has played in 49 career games, starting 38 of them. He has 179 tackles, 110 of them solo stops, 32 tackles for a loss, 22.5 sacks, 41 quarterback hits, six forced fumbles, two passes defensed and one interception in his three seasons.

Highsmith ranks first in the NFL for the most strip sacks (five) and forced fumbles (six) and is tied for second most in sacks (17.5) in his last 20 games, dating back to Week 16 of the 2021 season. He also has recorded seven multiple sack games in his career.

Highsmith is coming off the best season of his young career, having a breakout year in 2022, one which saw him lead the team in sacks with a career-high 14.5, after recording a combined eight sacks his first two seasons. His 14.5 sacks were tied for sixth-most in the NFL in 2022, fourth-most in the AFC and fifth-most in Steelers history for a single season.

"It was a good year, but I'm far from satisfied," said Highsmith in the offseason. "I never get complacent or comfortable, but I am grateful for a better year and being injury free for a year. I never want to get complacent, but I always want to be grateful."

In addition to leading the Steelers in sacks, Highsmith's team-high five forced fumbles were also tied for most in the NFL last year. He said it's a product of practice and the techniques and approach brought by defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, as well as defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and outside linebackers coach Denzel Martin.

It's also a product of Highsmith's dedication and work ethic.

"The culture of this defense is to get the ball out," said Highsmith. "The coaches emphasize it. They do a good job of setting up drills for us to work on finishing at the top of the rush. We do a lot of pass rush drills and at the end there's always a finish and there's always someone standing with the ball. We're working on reaching over, reaching through and getting the ball out. I think it starts with practice and we're working those because it's just muscle memory where you get around the edge, you get around the corner, you always just reach because you've done it so much."

In addition to his other key numbers, he finished the 2022 season with 63 tackles, 38 of them solo stops, 20 quarterback hits, 12 tackles for loss and one pass defensed.

"It gave me a lot of confidence," said Highsmith of his performance in 2022. "In 2021, I didn't have a good start to my year dealing with injuries. I ended up finishing the year strong. This past year, I just wanted to start fast and continue it throughout the year. I felt like I was playing with more consistency and more confidence because I know the type of player that I can be. I just want to continue to get better every year.

"It was just a whole different confidence level last year. I'm just going to try to do my best every year to have even more production. If it doesn't come, I'm still going to do this. I'll still be the same guy, still doing the same type of preparation that I do. I'm a process driven guy, so I'm not driven by the results or the outcomes. If I knew that I was going to go into a game and not get any sacks, I would still prepare the same exact way. I just want to continue to be process driven through this next year."

Highsmith started 16 games in 2021, registering 74 tackles, 46 of them solo stops and 15 tackles for a loss. He also had six sacks and one forced fumble.

Highsmith played in all 16 games in 2020, starting five. He finished the season with 48 tackles, including 30 solo stops, two sacks, an interception and a pass defense.

He started the last five regular season games of the season at right outside linebacker after Bud Dupree suffered a season ending injury against the Baltimore Ravens. In his first start against Washington, he had five tackles, and added another five tackles two weeks later against Cincinnati.

Highsmith had eight tackles in a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16, and a career-high nine tackles in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns.


Total Tackles
11 vs. Detroit Lions, Nov 14, 2021
9 at Cincinnati Bengals, Sep 11, 2022
9 at Cleveland Browns, Jan 03, 2021
8 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 08, 2023
1 more at 8

Solo Tackles
8 vs. Detroit Lions, Nov 14, 2021
7 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 03, 2022
6 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 08, 2023
6 at Cleveland Browns, Sep 22, 2022
2 more at 6

3.0 at Cincinnati Bengals, Sep 11, 2022
2.5 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 08, 2023
2.0 vs. New Orleans Saints, Nov 13, 2022
2.0 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 03, 2022
1.5 at Cleveland Browns, Sep 22, 2022
2 more at 1.5

Passes Defensed
1 at Baltimore Ravens, Nov 01, 2020

Forced Fumbles
1 at Carolina Panthers, Dec 18, 2022
1 at Indianapolis Colts, Nov 28, 2022
4 more at 1

Tackles For Loss
3 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 03, 2022
2 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 08, 2023
2 at Cleveland Browns, Sep 22, 2022
5 more at 2

1 at Baltimore Ravens, Nov 01, 2020

Interception Return Yards
2 at Baltimore Ravens, Nov 01, 2020

Special Teams Tackles
3 vs. Cleveland Browns, Oct 18, 2020
1 vs. Indianapolis Colts, Dec 27, 2020
1 vs. Baltimore Ravens, Dec 02, 2020
1 more at 1


Total Tackles
3 at Kansas City Chiefs, Jan 16, 2022
2 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 10, 2021

Solo Tackles
2 at Kansas City Chiefs, Jan 16, 2022
1 vs. Cleveland Browns, Jan 10, 2021

1.0 at Kansas City Chiefs, Jan 16, 2022

Tackles For Loss
1 at Kansas City Chiefs, Jan 16, 2022

Take a look at photographs of Steelers LB Alex Highsmith from the 2022 season

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