How could potential extensions effect Steelers cap situation beyond 2021?

JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Pittsburgh Steelers
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) T.J. Watt /

T.J. Watt

It should come as no surprise that T.J. Watt should be the Steelers’ top priority heading into the next offseason, despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of Ben Roethlisberger and the quarterback position. Watt is still only 26 and has done everything the Steelers could’ve possibly hoped for since he’s entered the league.

Since being drafted with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Watt has quickly become the cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s defense and one of the league’s top defensive players regardless of position. Through four seasons, Watt has tallied 49.5 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, 48 tackles for loss, and four interceptions, per Pro Football Reference. During that time he has been selected to three Pro Bowls, while also being named a First-Team All-Pro each of the last two seasons.

As one of the top defensive players in the league, Watt will command top dollar at the position and should reset the market for the next pass rusher. Joey Bosa currently has the largest defensive contract in the NFL, as he signed a five-year, $135 million contract, with $102 million guaranteed, per Spotrac. Look for Watt’s contract to exceed this number in total money and fully guaranteed money, unless he decides to take a discount for Pittsburgh.

Regardless, the Steelers will not let Watt walk, and will make sure to keep him in Pittsburgh for the long haul. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, the Steelers will likely place the Franchise Tag on him. The team lacks depth at the position, and Watt figures to be a front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year Award for the foreseeable future, making retaining him an easy decision.

Prediction: Re-signs 5 year, $140 million deal, with $110 million guaranteed