3 reasons Steelers must extend Derek Watt’s contract

Derek Watt #44 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Derek Watt #44 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Derek Watt was supposed to be a big signing for the Steelers entering the 2021 season. Here’s why an extension actually makes some sense.

I will be the first to say that he was hardly a factor on offense at any point in the season. Derek Watt was a nice boost on the best special teams unit we have fielded in years. He was able to help on the punt return unit that allowed Ray-Ray McCloud to put together one of the best seasons a punt returner has had for the Steelers since 1990, ranking 5th of all punt returners in yards per return in the subsequent 31 years.

Yet, this is about Watt, who aside from continuing his special teams’ excellence, could not find the field in Randy Fichtner’s offense. We wouldn’t see him carry the ball until the Steelers’ playoff loss against Cleveland.

An extension would help the cap situation

Derek Watt is set to carry a cap hit of just over 3.8 million in 2021. While we haven’t seen what he can do on offense as much, we have seen him garner at the very least a contract as one of the best special teams’ players we have. The Steelers value players that are willing to play their position and pick up special teams duties. Watt does this well. He doesn’t do enough on special teams to garner such a heavy cap hit in 2021, but he should be retained in some form due to this fact alone.

The Steelers just witnessed special teams standouts Tyler Matakevich and Anthony Chickillo leave prior to 2020. Watt has done well to mask their absence, but if he were to leave the special teams unit will inevitably take a step backward.

We have seen the Steelers offer extensions earlier than needed to help the short term cap dilemmas we have dealt with before. The fact that they could lock down a legitimate pro-bowler long term in order to level his cap hit is absolutely a bonus. After all, Watt is coming off a disappointing showing offensively and this could be used to lock him down slighter lower than his value for the next 3-4 years. The Steelers need to do what they can to help the cap in any way possible. Extending Watt will do that and then some while keeping the special teams unit in a great position.