Extension Spotlight: Steelers OLB T.J. Watt

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https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2021/09/09/Pittsburgh-Steelers-T-J-Watt-new-contract-highest-paid-defensive-player-in-NFL/stories/202109090212

T.J. Watt has been a step ahead of the competition since he entered the league, even managing to step out of his brother’s (J.J. Watt) shadow in the process. This is why he was earned a four-year, $112M extension (with $80M guaranteed) on September 9th, 2021, making him the new highest-paid defender in the league! He has had over 50 sacks (51.5, to be exact) and forced 18 fumbles since 2017. His talent is simply undeniable and, if he continues on this trajectory, his career could end with a gold jacket in the Hall of Fame. Wearing the silver and gold of the Steelers certainly raises his profile. Pittsburgh has long been known for having some of the best defensive players since the 1970s.

The Steelers know that defense wins championships and made sure to lock up Watt long-term. Usually, Pittsburgh isn’t known to make deals close to or during the season (meaning that September 12th would’ve been the deadline), but the threat of not having him was too great. There were a few interesting points of this deal as well. The Steelers included guaranteed money after the first year (three years fully guaranteed, in fact) of his extensions, which they usually do not do. Also, Watt himself arranged this deal after overruling his agents (who believed that he could get more money), after it was reported that both sides were discussing guarantees. He showed why he was worth every penny, with two sacks, three tackles (1 TFL), and a forced fumble in Week 1 against the Bills.

He played his offseason out perfectly, going through training camp without hitting and only three practices during which he saw action in the team periods. The 26-year-old Watt said that he felt “fresh” after his first live game action, as mentioned by Steelers Depot: “I think I kind of said that this week, I felt fresh all week. Never wanted to get too confident with how I felt because I don’t know, coming into a game atmosphere and with all the hype and adrenalin that comes with it.”

Watt epitomizes what the Steelers view as the standard. The linebacker is a high-energy defender with a knack for producing crucial plays. From sacks and turnovers to tackles for loss, the back-to-back first-team All-Pro is a force. Some even see Watt as the heir apparent to Aaron Donald’s title as the top defender in the league.

 

Sources

  1. Watt’s Contract Details: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers/tj-watt-21771/
  2. Watt’s Statistics: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WattT.00.htm
  3. Spotrac OLB Contracts: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/contracts/outside-linebacker/

 

Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.

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