Mike Hilton signs tender, still seeks multiyear deal with Steelers
Saying he never had any intention of holding out, Pittsburgh Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton reported to training camp on time Thursday and promptly signed his one-year exclusive-rights tender.
Hilton, who is seeking a long-term contract, will play for $645,000 this season under terms of his tender. He signed his contract shortly after arriving at Rooney Hall at Saint Vincent.
“My whole plan was to show up,” Hilton said. “I’m here for this team. I want to help this team win a championship.”
The last Steelers player to decline signing his exclusive rights tender until training camp was tackle Alejandro Villanueva in 2017. Villanueva was rewarded with a four-year, $24 million deal before he could sign his tender.
Hilton, 24, said “there have been talks” between the Steelers and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, about securing a lengthier deal.
“The idea is in the air, so that’s a plus,” he said.
The Steelers break off negotiations with players once the regular season starts, so Hilton will have until Sept. 8 to get the deal that he is seeking.
“Just go out and play ball,” Hilton said when asked how he can expedite that process. “This is the time when we get our chemistry going. I’m going to go out and do my part.”
Hilton has started at slot corner for the past two seasons, his first two in the NFL. He had 54 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions in his first season, and he contributed 57 tackles, one interception and one sack last season.
If Hilton plays the 2019 season on his tender, he will become a restricted free agent in March.
“It will take care of itself in the long run,” he said. “I’m focused on being here and helping the team win.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .