Steelers must get T.J. Watt's extension done before Micah Parsons breaks the bank

The edge defender market is about to explode to numbers we have never seen, and the Steelers would be wise to act fast.
Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys
Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Dallas Cowboys star pass rusher Micah Parsons has been in the news recently after leaving the door open to join the Pittsburgh Steelers somewhere down the line. The former first-round pick is from Harrisburg, PA, and played his college ball at Penn State.

This hometown reunion is extremely unlikely for a number of reasons. The Cowboys are going to pay Parsons every penny it takes to keep him in Dallas, and Parsons confessed he has 'no interest in playing anywhere but with the Cowboys'.

Seeing Parsons don the black and gold would be a dream, but there's a bigger story here that nobody is talking about.

Parsons is in line for a record-setting payday. After earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in his first season in 2021, the star edge defender has been a two-time First-Team All-Pro defender while earning Pro Bowl appearances in all three seasons. He also finished second in DPOY voting twice.

When Parsons inks his new deal, he 'fully expects' to be the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL -- blowing by players who previously reset the market like WR Justin Jefferson and EDGE Nick Bosa.

The Cowboys aren't the only team that needs to lock up their star player for the foreseeable future. Following the 2024 season, T.J. Watt will be entering a contract year... and the front office will need to act fast.

Steelers must sign T.J. Watt to an extension before Micah Parsons gets paid

Just before the 2021 season, T.J. Watt earned a record-setting deal -- becoming the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history in terms of average annual earnings. Since then, he has been leapfrogged by players like Jacksonville's Josh Allen and New York's Brian Burns.

Nick Bosa reset the market last offseason when he raked in $34 million per season on a lucrative five-year extension. Though the salary cap goes up each year, these star players are eating into a significant portion of the team's total salary cap space.

Guaranteed money also plays a significant factor. Bosa's $122.5 million in total guarantees was unlike anything we have ever seen for a defender before, and these numbers are only going to skyrocket as other stars get their contract extensions. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson just took things to a whole new level for the best non-quarterbacks -- earning a whopping $110 million in total guarantees over just 4 seasons.

We know that Micah Parsons is going to be a player who resets the market once again. For this reason, the Steelers should act to get Watt signed before Parsons breaks the bank. It's possible that we could be looking at numbers that are pushing $40 million per season by the time he gets his deal.

Even if the Steelers act first, it's safe to assume that Watt will top Bosa's numbers -- assuming he stays somewhat healthy and looks like his usual self. But waiting until Parsons gets paid has the potential to vault him into a higher pay grade. This means more money dished out by the team and less salary cap space to work with.

Regardless of when T.J. Watt gets his deal, we know it's going to be with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But inking the future Hall of Famer to a contract before Micah Parsons resets the market would be wise.