The Cleveland Browns officially signed defensive end Myles Garrett to his five-year, $125 million contract extension on Wednesday and that should now make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. The exact layout of that contract hasn’t been made available at the time of this post, but I have learned that it includes the rarely used double option bonus structure, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports.
So, what does the new Garrett deal ultimately mean for a player such as Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who isn’t expected to sign an extension until this same time next year? It’s hard to say for sure not yet knowing the Garrett contract structure. However, NFL insider John Clayton had no problems weighing in on what Garrett’s contract might mean for Watt during a Wednesday appearance on 93.7 The Fan.
“I’d say right now, $16 [million per season], and maybe a little bit more than that,” Clayton said of Watt’s current worth on the heels of the Browns signing Garrett. “And now Bud Dupree doesn’t want to hear this and neither does Shaq Barrett, but it’s like, okay, there’s a difference in the price of a defensive end versus the price of a linebacker. And so, you know, you figure that, I know that [Khalil] Mack got the $23.5 [million] and that stunned everybody, because again, he’s a linebacker. But usually there’s a $2 to $3 million difference between a D-end and a linebacker. So, you know, I don’t know if Watt does have the chance to get to $20 [million], but I would tend to think it’s going to be very, very difficult.”
I really don’t even know where to start with Clayton’s response, but I’ll try to find a spot. For starters, I guess Clayton felt the earn to throw out $16 million per for Watt as his current market value because that’s a little bit more than what the franchise tag amount was for 2020. Even so, that’s way low and I’m sure Watt and his representatives would laugh at the Steelers if they tried to offer a long-term deal right now with a new money average of around $16 million.
Clayton tried his best to draw the line between defensive ends and outside linebackers, but then went on to admit that Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack was the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL prior to Garrett signing his deal on Wednesday.
The fact that Clayton ended his comments on the topic by saying that it will be very difficult for Watt to get to $20 million per season in his new deal also seems way off base. If anything, $20 million per is probably Watt’s bottom floor value as we sit here today and that might even be a huge stretch to say. Personally, I view Watt’s current value as being a tad more than the $25 million per that Garrett just received from the Browns. Last I looked, Watt was a legitimate candidate to be the 21019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. In no way should Watt be penalized for being a linebacker and not a defensive end and I’m sure Bud Dupree would agree with that statement as well.
In case you need a quick reminder on Watt has done in his first three seasons in the NFL, start by looking at the company he’s already put himself in. Dating back to 1982 when sacks became an official stat, only 23 players have registered 30 of them through their first three years. Watt is one of those 23 players as is his older brother, J.J. Watt. Additionally, only 10 other players have registered more sacks than Watt’s 34.5 in their first three NFL seasons, dating back to 1982. By the way, Garrett is not one of those 10 players.
One again, it’s very unlikely that the Steelers sign Watt to an extension this summer. A year from now is when Watt will likely sign an extension and if his 2020 season winds up being anything like his 2019 one, or better, he’ll probably be knocking on the door of $30 million per season and especially if another edge-rusher tops Garrett’s $25 million per number during the 2021 free agency signing period.
With all due respect to Clayton, his analysis of Watt’s current and future marker value seems very, very off.