The Steelers have several players who will need to be paid soon. Here’s how they should prioritize who gets their new deal first.
When you do business the way Pittsburgh does, cap space is almost always going to be in short supply. To remain competitive year after year (something that most teams are unable to do) requires the Steelers to continually restructure contracts and push money into the future.
This strategy has obviously worked for them in the past. However, it makes it so there is never much cap space to go around. Pittsburgh is soon going to have a problem on their hand. They have a number of high-level players that are soon going to need to be paid.
Here’s how the Steelers should prioritize their future contract extensions:
1st Priority: T.J. Watt
T.J. Watt is not only becoming the face of the franchise for Pittsburgh, but he has also developed into one of the very best defensive players in the league. Watt is on a Hall-of-Fame pace through his first three NFL seasons, and at age 25, he was a runner up for the Defensive Player of the year award.
The Steelers still have the fifth-year option to hand Watt, so his extension isn’t exactly ‘urgent.’ However, when you factor in age, no player on the roster is more important to the team’s future than him, and a massive 5-7 year extension is something that should already be in the works.
At this rate, Watt has a chance to be the best edge defender in the history of the Steelers (which is saying an awful lot). Reserving a large percentage of the total future cap space is something that must be done. He will likely become the highest-paid edge defender in the league.