Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: OLB T.J. Watt
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: This isn’t so directly related to football, but you can rest assured that Watt and his agent were quite pleased with Myles Garrett signing a five-year, $25 million contract extension with the Cleveland Browns, which essentially sets the floor for his own extension next year.
Does the future prospect of getting a buttload of money raise your stock? I argue that it does, and the big contract for Garrett does exactly that for Watt. The Browns gave Garrett $125 million over five seasons, putting his new money average at $25 million per year, a new high-water mark for defensive players, surpassing Khalil Mack in doing so.
The first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, he has already proven to be an excellent player. Watt, taken in the same class, has as well. It can certainly be debated who is better overall, which strengths favor which. I would say that Watt is the more complete player, though when comparing their stats, it’s important to remember that Watt has played in over a quarter more games. Garrett has played 37 games to Watt’s 47, so he’s going to have better per-game numbers.
Either way, there is no way around the fact that Garrett’s contract means a lot of money for Watt next year, as long as nothing catastrophic happens between now and then, such as a career-threatening injury, which, sadly, we have seen before in the recent past.
Needless to say, Watt will be deserving of this money, and fans with a problem with that kind of money will be well-advised to remember that it’s not their money that’s being spent—and that the owners have way more money than even the richest player.
In the meantime, he will be gearing up for an encore performance. Last season, he finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. This time around, he wants that award. Another season like last year, with perhaps a few more sacks added to his total and maybe more tackles for loss, should do it.