2021 Offseason Questions: When Will T.J. Watt’s Deal Get Done?

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.

Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense, and multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quote with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?

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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: When will T.J. Watt’s deal get done?

Now that the preseason is over, there is one question larger than others remaining: when will outside linebacker T.J. Watt and the Steelers complete a new long-term contract, which would result in his returning to the practice field as a full participant?

Now on the eve of September, the Steelers have just under two weeks to prepare for their regular season opener on the road against the Buffalo Bills, and while Watt has been involved in the preparation in every aspect other than working in formal on-field team drills, you do have to practice eventually, especially if you’re going to take a beating for 60-70 snaps a game.

Most, I believe, understand the business part of the equation that is playing out. You want to minimize your exposure to uncontrollable variables when you’re working out a life-changing contract deal. Watt has done work off to the side in order to physically prepare himself for the season, but hasn’t risked having bodies falling around his legs and things like that.

Still, as long as he doesn’t get injured, it’s better for him to be practicing than not practicing. And with the preseason behind us, wrapping up Watt’s contract is the final item on the agenda for the front office before we get into the regular season. I would imagine, as with other deals we’ve seen, it will get done this week, but, to risk a tautology, it’s not done until it’s done.

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