Myles Garrett’s new deal will set the stage for Steelers OLB T.J. Watt

Browns edge defender, Myles Garrett, is about to become a very rich man. Here’s why his contract sets the market for what T.J. Watt could receive from the Steelers.

When we talk about the current best edge defenders in the league, players like Myles Garrett and Nick Bosa immediately come to mind. While T.J. Watt is labeled as an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defensive scheme, the Steelers All-Pro player certainly falls into the ‘edge defender’ category.

Recently, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Cleveland Browns and Myles Garrett are working on a new extension that could pay the star defensive end $125 million over 5 years. this would be $25 million per season and make him the richest edge defender in the history of the NFL.

If Garrett and the Browns agree to this deal, it sets the stage for Steelers edge defender, T.J. Watt. Both players were drafted in the first round back in 2017 and are nearing the end of their rookie deals. While Garrett was the number one overall pick, Watt was just a few picks from falling out of the first round when Pittsburgh selected him 30th overall.

Though Garrett was a more touted prospect entering the draft, Watt has actually outproduced him. Through three NFL seasons, Garrett has collected 30.5 sacks, 32 tackles for a loss 65 quarterback hits, and 6 forced fumbles. Meanwhile, in the same timeframe, Watt compiled 34.5 sacks, 36 tackles for a loss, 70 quarterback hits, and a whopping 15 forced fumbles, according to Pro Football Reference. In addition, Watt also pitched in 18 pass defenses (compared to just 4 for Garrett) and added 3 interceptions.

Equally impressive was Watt’s 8.3 passer rating he allowed on 52 coverage snaps last year. It is, however, important to remember that Garrett missed some time throughout his career – including the six games he missed with suspension after clubbing Steelers quarterback, Mason Rudolph, last season. However, some of the best ability is availability.

Though their roles are slightly different, both players are considered young, elite edge defenders and are expected to be among the best in the league for quite some time. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Watt would receive a bigger contract than the reported numbers that Garrett could earn (largely because the Steelers are so good at doing business). However, his numbers could be just under what Garrett ultimately receives.

At the end of the day, we could be looking at yearly cap hits of around $22-23 million per season for T.J. Watt. This seems like an awful lot of money, but it’s the way the NFL is going today. It’s hard to predict what is going to happen with the cap after the 2020 season. If it is to go down, teams that have spent high will likely be given some sort of cap break or potentially pay a luxury tax to compensate for the way they have structured contracts.

Either way, there is no way the Steelers let go of their best overall player. T.J. Watt has a chance to be one of the best defenders of this generation, and he’s a player that isn’t leaving Pittsburgh anytime soon.