The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of major contract negotiations with their best player, T.J. Watt. It’s causing a number of fans to grow frustrated, some even turning their anger toward him, and preferring to trade him away than give in to what is assumed to be his contract demands.
While the Baltimore Ravens were thought to be in a somewhat similar position with quarterback Lamar Jackson, there hasn’t been any significant movement on contract talks in that front, and there are some major differences there. For one, Jackson has two years left on his deal, and the Ravens negotiate in-season, while the Steelers do not.
Baltimore did get one major deal done in time for kickoff on opening day, however, completing a new contract extension for Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, who has been Jackson’s favorite target since he came into the league.
According to reports, Andrews’ deal is a four-year extension totaling $56 million in new money, averaging out to $14 million per season. That puts him just behind Travis Kelce, making $14.3 million per season, and George Kittle at $15 million, as the third-highest-paid tight end in the league.
Nearly two-thirds of the deal comes guaranteed, or $37.6 million, and he is set to earn $26.6 million by March of next year. I don’t think there is a report that specifies how much of this comes in the form of a straight signing bonus.
Andrews caught 58 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns last season in 14 games. The year before that, he recorded 64 receptions for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 17 touchdowns over the past two years are the most of any tight end in that span. He has totaled 156 receptions through three seasons for 2,105 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Only Marquise Brown’s 100 targets amounted to more than Andrews’ 88 last season, but Brown also played in every game. Andrews had 98 targets during the 2019 season, which was comfortably more than anyone else, with Brown second at 71 targets.
While the Steelers are hoping to get a major contract on the books over the course of the next few days, they are also hoping for their own young tight end to turn out as well as Andrews has. They used a second-round draft pick on Pat Freiermuth in the spring, and he was named a co-starter with Eric Ebron yesterday.