Following Ben Roethlisberger’s lead, Cam Heyward went to bat for T.J. Watt Thursday morning, fully supporting Watt’s desire to cash in on a long-term extension with the team. Heyward echoed similar sentiments as Roethlisberger, nothing how good of a player he’s been for the organization.
“We all feel like T.J. should be paid,” Heyward told reporters in a video tweet sent out by ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “He’s put in the time, the work. He’s a productive player. His injury history, he doesn’t miss many games. He’s a game-changer. Our conversations with him is, he should be paid. It’s not anything to gloss over. I just think this guy has been a contributor for us for a long time. Where he got drafted, we were very lucky. We all knew he was going to be a player here. And he’s answered the call and done more.”
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Since Roethlisberger’s comments yesterday, there’s been even more of a public support from teammates supporting Watt’s desire for an extension. Joe Haden posting on Instagram, Heyward’s comments, and others who have thrown their support behind Watt.
Watt and the Steelers have been in a contractual stalemate all summer now with the main issue revolving around the amount of fully guaranteed money. The Steelers are one of three teams to have an old-school mentality of paying out money beyond the first year, as Dave Bryan laid out in a recent article. Watt and his camp are trying to change that, getting more fully guaranteed money up front. It’s now a question of who – if either side – blinks.
Ultimately, Roethlisberger’s and Heyward’s comments won’t convince the team to change their ways. But it’s at least some level of public pressure and definitely total support behind their teammate. For guys like Roethlisberger and Heyward, they’ve been down the contract negotiation road before. Ultimately, they got something done. Hopefully Watt can say the same by the time Sunday rolls around.