Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is still not practicing as of Saturday afternoon, and now we know the exact reason why thanks to defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
According to Butler on Saturday, per Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Watt basically isn’t practicing in training camp yet as he’s waiting to get a new contract extension done before doing so. That’s obviously what I have speculated as being the reason why Watt has yet to practice in training camp, and I really don’t blame him.
This is interesting from Steelers DC/OLBs coach Keith Butler on TJ Watt, who hasn’t been in team drills at camp: “That’s none of my business. I hope he signs a contract. When he gets that done, we’ll talk.”
Asked if that’s why Watt is limited. Butz: “I don’t blame him for that.”
— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 7, 2021
The Steelers obviously are hoping to get Watt signed to a contract extension prior to the 2021 regular season starting. That’s now right at 36 days away so there’s plenty of time for the two sides to hammer out a contract extension that would likely result in Watt becoming the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.
“I don’t blame him for that,” Butler said on Saturday, per 93.7 The Fan. “You don’t want to get hurt when you are trying to get your contract done. You kind of lose some flexibility in terms of what you can sign. I don’t blame him for that. Ihope they get it done.”
Colbert was asked about negotiations with Watt ahead of the Steelers Thursday night Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys.
“T.J. is a great player for us,” Colbert said of Watt. “He’s proven to be one of the better defensive players in the National Football League. There’s no denying that. We never talk about individual negotiations. What we always talk about, we recognize who our great players are, and we always recognize that we always try to keep our players with us so that they can maybe, not only add to their legacy, but maybe help us win some games.”
Watt is currently scheduled to earn $10.089 million in 2021 as part of his fifth-year option being picked up by the Steelers well over a year ago. Assuming Watt does sign a new long-term extension in the next 36 days, it figures to result in him having a new money average between $29 and $30 million.
Steelers team president Art Rooney II said a few days ago that the hope is to get a deal dome with Watt prior to Week 1 of the 2021 regular season.
“We’d like to get T.J.’s deal done, if we can, before the start of the season,” said Rooney, per Teresa Varley of steelers.com. “That’s the goal. I don’t like to get into those details in terms of the discussions, but we’re going to try to get it done by the start of the season if we can.
“I try not to get optimistic or pessimistic. I’ve seen these things go so many different ways over the years. We’re just going to do our best and I think both sides want to get something done so that’s always a good thing.”