Which Pittsburgh Steelers are worth a 10-year contract extension?

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) T.J. Watt
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) T.J. Watt /

In the wake of Patrick Mahomes’ massive new deal, we take a look at which Pittsburgh Steelers players are worth a potential 10-year contract extension.

Recently, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes inked a lucrative new deal that made him the richest player in NFL history. Nobody was surprised to see that Mahomes – the former league MVP and Super Bowl-winning quarterback – become the league’s highest-paid player, but the extent of his deal was remarkable.

In the NFL, 5-year or 6-year contracts seem like massive deals. Mahomes and the Chiefs broke the mold with a 10-year extension that locks up the star quarterback until the 2031 offseason.

This got me thinking: Which Steelers players are worth a heavy 10-year investment? Are there any in which Pittsburgh would be willing to give a contract like this?

Let’s start with some of the players the Steelers would not do this for. Despite their impressive bodies of work and Pro Bowl to All-Pro resumes, we can completely rule out a deal like this for players like Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Heyward, David DeCastro. A contract of this magnitude would take each of these players into their 40s and clearly, Pittsburgh wouldn’t risk paying for the drop-in play or retirement these players will no doubt witness within the next decade.

Next, there is a group of younger, budding stars who still miss the cut. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Devin Bush both come to mind. While both players show a lot of promise early in their NFL careers, neither Bush nor JuJu have established themselves as among the best players in the league at their positions. If their careers turn south, Pittsburgh could end up drastically overpaying for either player on a 10-year deal.

This leaves us with only two realistic candidates: T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

While Fitzpatrick’s 2019 season as a 22-year old player was nothing short of spectacular, I would have a very hard time locking him up to a 10-year deal right away. Though Minkah was a blue-chip player coming out of Alabama in 2018, I would need to see at least another year of dominate before I put all of my eggs into that basket.

If Fitzpatrick’s play ends up coming down to earth next season and he proves to be a very good safety – but not an elite safety – Pittsburgh would be locked into one of the league’s biggest contracts and overpay for a free safety.

Obviously, I think Minkah is a terrific football player, and I hope he continues to build on his 2019 season, but I would pump the brakes on that extension for now.

At the moment, T.J. Watt is the only Steelers player I would feel comfortable giving a decade-long deal to. He now has three seasons under his belt and has made dramatic improvements each year. Watt finished as a runner up for the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and he stands to be one of the best defensive players in the league for the next decade of football. In addition, his elite athleticism and impressive family lineage are all the more reason why he can be trusted to such a lofty extension.

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Even when Watt gets his deal and becomes perhaps the highest-paid edge defender in the league, it likely won’t be for 10 years. Contracts spanning over the course of a decade in the NFL are extremely rare and can be incredibly risky if given to the wrong player. That’s why T.J. Watt would be the only player on the Pittsburgh Steelers I would give a 10-year deal to right now on the team.