The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t win the JJ Watt sweepstakes with Watt yesterday announcing he’d signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. But according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers were “in the mix” to sign him.
Steelers were definitely in the mix throughout with J.J. Watt, who would have welcomed playing with brothers Derek and T.J, per source. But Cardinals took clear advantage in final days, and Pittsburgh has much to figure out with cap deficit, Big Ben's contract and more
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 2, 2021
“In the mix” can mean a lot of things and we don’t know how serious the Steelers were in pursuing him. The only other report that came out about Watt and the Steelers was an Ed Werder tweet noting Pittsburgh was among a dozen teams doing their homework.
As Fowler wrote in the second half of his tweet, the Steelers’ cap situation would’ve made it very difficult to fit Watt’s contract. Watt received a two-year, $31 million deal with $23 million of that guaranteed. And even if Pittsburgh made the math work, they wouldn’t have been able to re-sign virtually any of their many pending free agents. The Steelers also have a great d-line duo in Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, making for an awkward fit if Watt came to town.
Maybe in the next few years we’ll hear from Watt, or his brothers, to tell the story of how serious and mutual the interest between both sides was. But Watt won’t be playing in Pittsburgh in 2020, something that was easy to assume from the moment the Texans’ cut him.