Pittsburgh Steelers star Cameron Heyward on his 'Not Just Football' podcast. Screen grab: ESPN

When the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field for their organized team activities on Tuesday, Cameron Heyward won’t be on the field.

That’s because the star defensive lineman is holding out for a new contract as he enters the final year of current deal.

Heyward’s holdout figures to be a delicate one considering his status as a pillar of both the franchise and the Pittsburgh community. But in a recent column regarding the situation, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Gerry Dulac hinted at there potentially being some bad blood between the NFL’s reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year and the team he’s spent the first 13 seasons of his career with.

“The Steelers have had a ‘discussion’ with Heyward about a contract extension, but it has been nothing more than that, according to team sources,” Dulac wrote. “Heyward did not tell the Steelers about his threat to skip OTAs, preferring to announce it on his podcast, ‘Not Just Football.'”

Replying to an aggregated version of Dulac’s story posted on SteelersDepot.com, Heyward took issue with the reporting, which he called “a bold faced lie.”

For what it’s worth, Dulac adjusted his report to reflect Heyward’s public response.

Whether Heyward communicated with the team directly is noteworthy — as is Heyward’s response disputing Dulac’s claim. The wording of the original report could certainly be taken to imply that the 35-year-old is more concerned with his personal brand than his relationship with the Steelers, so it’s not a surprise he would reply so strongly.

Presumably, Dulac has a good source on this and isn’t taking Heyward’s announcement on his podcast as a sign that he didn’t also communicate with the team. Considering that the holdout has only affected voluntary activities to this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if if this is all the result of some weird gray area, where Heyward felt he properly communicated his holdout with the organization, even if it wasn’t received that way.

What is clear, however, is that Heyward definitely didn’t communicate with Dulac regarding his holdout until Tuesday.

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.