Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has entrenched himself as a vital cog in the team’s defense over the past decade. But that notwithstanding, Heyward understands if the organization doesn’t ink him to a contract extension beyond 2020 ahead of the upcoming season.

“Man, I hate talking about it in the past tense like I am already gone, but I have to be ready for the reality if that comes about,” Heyward said, per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “I love being a Pittsburgh Steeler, but if my time is up, my time is up.”

Citing that he believes some of the contract talks were halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Heyward also noted that he was taking things on a day-to-day basis and not trying to look ahead to what his future with another organization would look like.

Heyward has blossomed into a star over the past three seasons, all of which have seen him earn Pro Bowl honors. He has combined for 29 sacks in that span, coming off a career-high 83-tackle campaign for Pittsburgh last year en route to earning first-team All-Pro honors.

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What Heyward made clear was that his status for beyond 2020 will not affect his output on the field this upcoming year. He added,

“I don’t know if their minds have changed. I understand their policy and respect their policy. If I have to play this year and go into next year as a free agent, then so be it. That’s not going to deter me from being the best teammate, the best person, the best player I can be.”

The Steelers typically do not offer contract extensions when the regular season is underway, so if anything is impending for Heyward, it will have to come over the next three months.