The Pittsburgh Steelers came to terms with their first outside unrestricted free agent just one day ahead of the start of the 2020 NFL league year and it’s fullback Derek Watt, brother of outside linebacker T.J. Watt. Not only was the Steelers reported deal with the former member of the Los Angeles Chargers a bit of a surprise, it now brings into question the immediate future of the team’s fullback for the last five seasons, Roosevelt Nix.
Immediately after it was reported that the Steelers had come to terms with Derek Watt, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted that the team will now be releasing Nix, who played in only three games last season due to a knee injury.
Derek Watt signing means Steelers will release FB Rosie Nix, who played only 34 snaps in 2019 because of injuries. Nix was scheduled to earn $2.95 million total in base salary the next two seasons. He will still count $875,000 against the cap in 2020.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 17, 2020
Nix, who is currently under contract with the Steelers through the 2021 season, is slated to earn a $1.45 million base salary in 2020. In case you’re curious, the Steelers only stand to save $402,500 in 2020 salary cap space after top 51 roster displacement takes place by cutting Nix now and that’s not a huge savings if the fullback and special teams ace is fully healthy and able to compete for a roster spot.
Could the Steelers potentially find a team willing to trade a sixth or seventh-round draft pick for Nix? That’s probably a possibility if Nix’s knee is fine, which is something we just don’t for sure is the case right now.
Like Nix, Derek Watt is a fantastic special teams player so he’s a lock to make the opening day roster right now barring something totally unforeseen. After all, the Steelers probably gave Derek Watt a signing bonus of at least $3 million.
Could the Steelers ultimately keep both Nix and Derek Watt? It sure seems highly unlikely at this point but it’s worth pointing out that game-day rosters are expending by two players this season as part of the new CBA agreement. One of those extra spots could easily go to a fullback/special teams type.
In closing, all we can do right now is sit and wait and see what ultimately transpires with Nix. Maybe he will be quickly jettisoned now that Derek Watt has agreed to terms. Personally, I would keep Nix around at least a little while longer if he’s healthy, willing and able as the team just doesn’t save much in cap space to part ways with him right now.