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2021 Offseason Questions: How Much Would J.J. Watt Have To Leave On Table To Come To Pittsburgh?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How much would J.J. Watt have to be willing to leave on the table in order to play with his brothers in Pittsburgh?

With the news yesterday that J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans mutually parted ways, obviously Steelers fans are abuzz, the seemingly unimaginable scenario of reuniting him with his two younger siblings—fullback Derek Watt and outside linebacker T.J. Watt—now a step further from unreality.

Even though it is rather unlikely to happen, that’s not going to stop Steelers fans—or us—from talking about it in the hypothetical. And a major part of that hypothetical involves J.J.’s willingness to take a substantial cut in pay in order to play with his brothers.

Because that is what would have to happen in order for him to join the Steelers. Lest we forget, they already have Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, and neither of them are moving to outside linebacker. Watt is still a prime player in 2021, among the best at his position.

Perhaps he would be willing to take less to make this dream happen. But how much less? And what defensive role would he be willing to accept—or what accommodations would the Steelers have to make in order to bring him in? It’s not like they’re going to trade or release Heyward or Tuitt.

So barring something rather unforeseen, the question remains hypothetical: how much money would J.J. Watt have to be willing to leave on the table in order to join his brothers in Pittsburgh?

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