If you’re waiting for the T.J. Watt record-breaking contract to hit, give it a couple more days. According to the Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, he expects Watt to sign his massive deal shortly after the team’s preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers.
Dulac tweeted the notion out a few moments ago.
Now that the preseason is almost over, expect T.J. Watt to sign a contract extension shortly after the Carolina game that will make him the league's highest-paid defensive player.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 23, 2021
It’s hard to say if that’s a concrete report. But at worst, it’s informed speculation. And as massive and potentially complicated as a deal like this is, there’s every reason to believe a deal will be struck before the regular season begins. It needs to anyway — the Steelers don’t talk contracts once Week 1 kicks off. Watt has yet to practice in team sessions this summer while his agent and the team negotiate. He has done some work on the side and in individual work.
It sounds like he won’t start practicing in full until after the preseason ends. That’s a lot of time missed but it’s worth noting he has two weeks between the end of the preseason and start of the regular season thanks to the fourth preseason game being eliminated and turning into a bye.
As Dulac notes, and this much has been obvious, Watt will become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player in football. Currently sitting in that top spot is Chargers’ EDGE rusher Joey Bosa making an average of $27 million per year. Watt will surpass that number. Now, it’s a question of whether or not he can hit the $30 million mark. That much is a little less unclear. His contract will also make him the highest-paid non-QB in franchise history by a considerable margin.
Watt is deserving of every penny he ends up getting. The Steelers’ first round pick in 2017, he’s recorded 49.5 sacks in his first four seasons and has been in the running for Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and 2020.
Assuming the deal gets done, and it almost certainly will, we’ll have all the details for you once the ink is dried.