Over the past several years, the sporting media has enjoyed adopting a ‘bold predictions’ feature, which has largely become synonymous with ‘silly idea that has a rather low probability of happening, if it’s not outright ridiculous. ESPN has followed in that bold tradition with an article published earlier this month, listing a ‘bold prediction’ for each team.
When it came time for Brooke Pryor to make a bold prediction, she did so by stating the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign three-time former Defensive Player of the year—and oldest sibling—J.J. Watt, whose two younger brothers, including baby T.J., are already on the roster.
Yes, the Steelers have more pressing needs than a defensive end and their cap situation hardly affords them the budget to bring in a star, even an aging one. But with the Watt brothers’ emphasis on family and the vocal desire to play together, it’s not that far fetched. With Watt already earning a massive amount of money in his decade in Houston, it’s not unreasonable to think he could take a family discount to play his final years with his brothers. Imagine a Steelers defense that has both Watt brothers. It’s not as distant a possibility as it once was.
Frankly, while Watt’s talent obviously commands far more than the Steelers would be able to fit under the salary cap, the worst argument for bringing him in is on the basis of need. They simply do not need him.
They already have Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, two Pro Bowl or Pro Bowl-caliber defensive ends who are capable of producing double-digit sacks, and no doubt are playing at a similar level as Watt at this point in their respective careers.
If he were willing to come in and play a supporting role for a few million dollars, then we could talk, but I don’t think there is anybody in the world who actually believes that Watt would be able to settle for that. He is still one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL, even if he is no longer at the height of his powers a decade into his career.
The only way this idea could even approach feasibility would be if the Steelers were to formally move to a 4-3 defense. While that’s not ideal for T.J. Watt, the reality is that even he doesn’t drop into coverage very much anymore.
But then they don’t have three linebackers to play, especially if they were to cut Vince Williams, which would become much more likely if they were to go after Watt. Do you put the oft-injured Ulysees Gilbert III on the field? You’d surely have to draft here just to bolster the depth for what would amount to a likely temporary change just to accommodate for the inclusion of one special player in the twilight of his career.