One would think that an NFL franchise should not let a three-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler slip away in free agency, right? That’s common sense, right?
Well, Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon felt the need to reiterate that point with the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday, citing All-Pro pass rusher T.J. Watt as the one player the Steelers “cannot afford to lose” in the 2022 offseason.
You don’t say?
“We’ve got two ‘duh’ blurbs in a row for you with the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers, both of whom have All-Pro defenders entering contract years in their primes,” Gagnon writes. “We’ll start with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt, who in the last two years has earned a pair of first-team All-Pro nods thanks to 29.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 77 quarterback hits and three interceptions. At 26, he’s one of the most dominant players in the sport, and the Steelers must realize he can’t get away after his option year in 2021. The franchise tag would almost certainly be used if Watt doesn’t sign a long-term deal in the next eight months. But if a deal does come to fruition, it could make the 2017 first-round pick the highest-paid defensive player in league history.”
At least Gagnon acknowledges that it’s a no-brainer with Watt and the Steelers.
There’s very little chance that the Steelers and Watt don’t reach an agreement on a record-breaking extension this summer, or shortly after the 2021 season, keeping the franchise tag out of play, which is a goal for both sides when it comes to a long-term pairing.
The Steelers’ brass knows how great Watt is, and how important he is to team success now and into the future. When the Steelers hit on a draft pick like Watt, very rarely does the franchise let that pick get away without a second or third contract. It’s a safe bet at this point to assume Watt will never play a down in anything but a Steelers’ jersey, and will one day hold not only the Steelers’ all-time sacks record, but will have a rightful spot in the team’s Ring of Honor.