Steelers, Watt agree to Record Contract-Extension
It took all Summer and despite the speculation and concern of whether it was going to get done, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a way to get it done.
Per ESPN’s Ian Rapoport, the Steelers and All-Pro LB TJ Watt have agreed to terms on a four- year, $112 million contract extension with $80 million fully guaranteed. Watt becomes the highest paid defensive player in football.
“If it’s ok with Yinz, I’d like to stay a while!! LET’S GO PITTSBURGH!!!!”-Watt said via Twitter.
Watt’s deal of $28 million annually passes LA Chargers DE Joey Bosa $27 million average and Chicago Bears outside LB Khalil Mack, ($23.5 million)
“I could Cry!!! Congrats fam! U deserve every penny!! I got to Pittsburgh your rookie year and you have done nothing but display professionalism and play at the Highest level in the league!!! Let’s get it brother SWAT!!! @_TJWatt”-Said Steelers CB Joe Haden on Twitter.
The largest contract that the Steelers had previously given to a defensive player was to LB LaMarr Woodley (six-year, $61.5 million in 2011). Before him, it was 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison ($51.75 million over 6 years in 2009)
Watt’s $80 million in guarantees also eclipses the $67 million that has been currently guaranteed to QB Ben Roethlisberger.
During Training Camp, Watt didn’t fully practice with the team, but he was in uniform and practicing away from the field. Watt also did not play in any of the 4 Steelers Preseason games.
Many media outlets questioned whether the Steelers would be flexible to Watt’s requests and whether both sides would agree to terms before the team’s self-imposed deadline of not negotiating contracts during the regular season. Many assumed that the Steelers could still use the option of putting the Franchise Tag on Watt for one or two seasons, but the Steelers had made it plain that they expected to get this deal done. In fact, head coach Mike Tomlin had recently said at his Tuesday news conference that he was optimistic that it would get done and that he expected Watt to fully practice on Wednesday, which he did.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said via Twitter that Watt overruled his agents who believed they could get more money today, marched into the office of Steelers president Art Rooney and told him they had a deal. Then the NFL’s new highest-paid defensive player excused himself and announced he had to go work out.
Since being a first round draft pick in 2017, Watt has amassed 230 Total tackles, 49.5 sacks, 17 Forced fumbles, 4 Fumble recoveries and 4 Interceptions. He’s a 2-time All-Pro Selection and 3- time Pro Bowl selection. His 15 sacks led the NFL last season, but he finished 2nd to LA Rams
DT Aaron Donald for NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award voting. But he was awarded the 2020 AFC Defensive Player of the Year and 2020 Deacon Jones Award winner (NFL Sacks Leader)
As a result of the new deal, Watt is expected to play in the Steelers Sunday Season opener vs. the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium.
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