TJ Watt will continue to climb up the sack leaderboards in 2021. If all goes well, he’ll easily crack the Top Five in Pittsburgh Steelers’ history by the end of the year. And in fact, probably do so much sooner than that.
Watt enters 2021 with 49.5 career sacks. Since 1982 when the stat became official, that’s 8th in Steelers’ history. He’s just 8.5 back of fifth place. Here’s how #3-#8 look.
3. Joey Porter – 60
4. Keith Willis – 59
5. Cam Heyward – 58
6. LaMarr Woodley – 57
7. Greg Lloyd – 53.5
8. TJ Watt – 49.5
Of course, Heyward is still an active player so his sack numbers remain a moving target. But Willis is only one sack ahead and Porter just two. If Watt has ten sacks this upcoming year, he’ll crack the top five. Odds are strong he’ll do that and pass Porter in the process. By the end of 2021, he should be 4th all-time only trailing James Harrison, Jason Gildon, and Heyward. There’s even a chance he leapfrogs Heyward too for third place.
Watt is on a rare pace for sacks. We’ve posted the number before but it’s one that bears repeating. He’s just the 8th player (again, since 1982) with 49+ sacks in his first five years. Watt joins elite company. Names like Reggie White, Von Miller, Richard Dent, and older brother JJ Watt are a handful of players who’ve also done it.
If Watt can repeat what he did in 2020 with a 15 sack season, he’ll then have 64.5 in his first five seasons. Here’s how that would rank on the all-time list.
Most Sacks Through First Five Seasons
1. Reggie White – 81
2. JJ Watt – 74.5
3. Derrick Thomas – 66
T-4. Demarcus Ware – 64.5
T-4. TJ Watt – 64.5
So that’d be tied for fourth all-time. An incredible number.
Watt is still early in his career in the grand scope of things but he’s clearly on a Hall of Fame track. He’s been among the best defenders in football for at least the past two years and came on strong at the end of his 2018 season. It’ll be an upset if he doesn’t end his Steelers’ career leading the team in sacks. It’s less of a question of if he’ll pass James Harrison’s 80.5 but if he’ll be the first Steeler to hit triple-digits. He’s basically already halfway there.