No surprise here, but Steelers owner Art Rooney says he wants to keep T.J. Watt for the long haul (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Brooke Pryor). As it stands, the outside linebacker is scheduled to reach free agency after the 2021 season.
“We’re certainly going to try,” Rooney said. “We certainly look at T.J. as a key player in the future. I can assure you we’ll do everything we can to keep T.J. on our roster beyond this year. That’s the goal.”
The Steelers exercised Watt’s fifth-year option to give him a $10.089MM salary in 2021. Historically, the Steelers have made it a point to extend key players when they’re a year away from free agency (and, by the same token, they’ve done their best to avoid those talks when stars are two years out). The Steelers could get ahead of the game by locking up the Pro Bowler this summer.
Watt, 27 in October, is coming off of his second straight All-Pro season and third consecutive Pro Bowl nod. Last year, he led the league with 15 sacks to bring his career tally to 49.5. A new deal won’t come cheap, but he’s the type of player the Steelers can’t afford to lose. Assuming the 2022 salary cap bounces back towards its usual max, Rooney should be able to get a deal done.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.