The Pittsburgh Steelers doubled up on brotherly love this offseason after signing fullback Derek Watt, one of the older brothers of T.J. Watt. He joined Trey and Terrell Edmunds as pairs of siblings on the current roster. Center Maurkice Pouncey also has a twin brother in the league—a former teammate of Derek’s—and Vince Williams also had a brother in the league who was briefly on Pittsburgh’s practice squad.
Derek agreed to a three-year, $9.75 million contract to join the Steelers, replacing Roosevelt Nix as their fullback, and Watt is also expected to take his place as a special teams ace. While he is abundantly aware of how crucial special teams is to his livelihood as a player at a position that is something of a relic in this day and age, he still maintains that the fullback has its purpose.
“I will try to lead the way for the backs and try to continue in the passing game as well”, Watt said. “I think I have some versatility in my game to be used in multiple areas. It’s a hard-nosed tough tradition of greatness. It’s tough blue collar. I think I fit that mold well. It fits the way I was raised”.
Watt has never played even 150 snaps on offense in a single season, but he has averaged nearly 300 snaps per season on special teams. He has just 19 carries in his career for 49 yards, scoring his first career touchdown last season. He also has 10 receptions on 13 targets for 152 yards. He had a 53-yard reception during his rookie season that is a bit of an outlier.
Like Watt, Nix was not a big part of the Steelers’ offense in any of his five seasons here, never reaching even 200 snaps on offense in a single season. Even before he missed all but three games last season, it already seemed as though the fullback role was in the decline in 2018.
And as indicated, Watt hasn’t exactly been used a great deal in the past, either, while he was with the Los Angeles Chargers, so it’s hard to imagine that substantially changing. The only fullback who gets used a significant amount, really, is Kyle Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers, who logged nearly 700 snaps recently on offense.
Watt is now the second-highest-paid fullback in the league, but his salary is largely geared toward the thinking that he will be a standout special teams player, in an offseason during which they lost four of their most prominent participants in that phase.
With a new fullback in tow, will that change the plan at all? Could we actually see a fullback log 200 or more snaps in a season? Might he actually get a handful of carries or receptions? I wouldn’t bet on it, but you never know.