The fifth-year option on T.J. Watt‘s contract has been picked up, according to a press release from the Steelers. With that, the linebacker will be under club control through the 2021 season.
Watt, the younger brother of J.J. Watt, stepped out of his brother’s shadow while keeping with the family legacy of hard-nosed defense. Originally a tight end at Wisconsin, he switched to the other side of the ball midway through his career and delivered tremendous results off the edge. In 2016 – his first year as a starter – he notched 11.5 sacks. At the pro level, he’s gotten better and better each year.
In 2019, Watt managed 14.5 sacks and a league-leading eight forced fumbles en route to his best season yet. All in all, he’s got 34.5 career sacks, 177 stops, and 15 forced fumbles across three years. The exact figure on his option is not yet known, since he was drafted outside of the Top 10. Whatever the number is, it won’t be enough. Watt and the Steelers are expected to discuss an extension sooner rather than later to position him as one of the highest-paid edge rushers in the NFL. Meanwhile, he says his best work is still on the horizon.
“It’s just working hard and getting more and more experience,” said Watt. “This was my second year playing the left side. I am just growing and learning how I can approach the game better, find out what works better for me as far as film study, practice and preparation. Hopefully I can keep taking those jumps as I progress in my career.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.