In a move that should surprise no one, the Pittsburgh Steelers have exercised the 5th year option on outside linebacker TJ Watt’s contract, the team announced moments ago. It will keep him through the 2021 season.
This was always a no-brainer decision. Watt was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2019, racking up 14.5 sacks, a league-leading eight forced fumbles, and two interceptions. He became one of the league’s most feared defenders, teaming up with Bud Dupree to create a top pass rush duo.
The NFL has yet to disclose how much the 5th year option will be for the position. Last year, it was $9.32 million for linebackers drafted outside the first ten picks. Under new CBA rules, the 5th year is automatically guaranteed, as opposed to waiting until the first day of the new league year under the previous bargaining agreement.
Watt will certainly receive a record-setting long-term deal from the team at some point, though that may not happen this summer. When the deal does get done, expect Watt to become one of the league’s highest paid defenders, potentially exceeding what Khalil Mack received from the Chicago Bears in 2018. His deal was worth $23.5 million annually.