Steelers reportedly come to terms on T.J. Watt megadeal

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90). Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90). Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

Steelers fans can finally relax knowing the reports are in the team has reached a deal with T.J. Watt, making him the top-paid defensive player in the NFL.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are doing exactly what they needed to do.

Pay All-Pro EDGE T.J. Watt whatever money he wants.

Watt, who is currently set to play on his fully guaranteed fifth-year option in 2021, held himself out of team practices during training camp and elected not to play in the preseason in favor of getting a new deal. All the while, the Steelers had a tough time budging on the sheer amount of money they knew he’d command.

Fortunately, at least according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Thursday, that’s all coming to an end:

According to Rapoport, the new deal for the soon-to-be 27-year-old Watt will be an additional four years with an average of over $28 million per season. Currently, the highest-paid defensive player is Los Angeles Chargers EDGE Joey Bosa, whose $27 million annual-average salary will now be eclipsed by that of Watt.

Not cheap. But certainly worth it.

Steelers did what they needed to do in extending T.J. Watt

Head coach Mike Tomlin remained optimistic in the week leading up to Pittsburgh’s regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills, suggesting a last-second deal could get done and Watt would indeed be available to play.

Well, now it has.

Some might call out how the Steelers elected not to pursue this kind of route with another former pass-rusher, Bud Dupree, yet the comparison between Dupree and Watt isn’t even fair to make.

Dupree is a great player and should be a multiyear Pro Bowler at some point.

Watt, on the other hand, is a once-in-a-generation kind of player. A cornerstone, if you like, of what’s looking to be yet another high-quality Pittsburgh pass rush this season and likely beyond.

Elite-level pass-rushers aren’t cheap. In terms of contracts, they’re the equivalent of star quarterbacks when it comes to looking at the amount of money needing to be spent. Of all the top contracts issued out to defensive players in 2021, the top three are for edge rushers.

Four now, if you’re choosing Watt. And now, the fifth player on that list will be Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Yes, it’s ultimately going to cost the Steelers a lot of money to keep Watt around for the long run. But he’s the kind of player teams do that for anyway, and ensuring the three-time Pro Bowler is taken care of, financially, should have nothing but positive ramifications for the franchise for a long, long time.

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