2023 Stock Watch – FB Derek Watt – Stock Up

Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.

Player: FB Derek Watt

Stock Value: Up

Reasoning: The seventh-year veteran saw a career-high in offensive touches last season and had a good deal of success when given the opportunity. Specifically, served as a short-yardage alternative on the fullback dive. He also functioned in some gadget opportunities, catching a touchdown pass from wide receiver Chase Claypool.

Even though he arguably made himself more valuable last season by virtue of having the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to contribute positively as a ball carrier, it’s highly likely that Derek Watt is in for a pay cut moving forward.

The veteran just completed a three-year, $9.75 million contract that at the time made him the highest-paid fullback in NFL history behind the San Francisco 49ers’ fullback whose name I can never remember how to spell in spite of the fact that my own last name employs similar linguistic patterns. Which is why he goes by Juice Check as a social media handle.

But Watt isn’t exactly checking the same kind of juice, if we’re being honest. Yes, he was effective in the handful of opportunities he was given to convert on 3rd and 1 on fullback dives. He caught a couple of passes and scored a couple of touchdowns.

But in truth, his effectiveness on special teams actually took a step backward in 2022 in comparison to his much stronger 2021 season. He still made certain plays that stood out and contributed to the ability of others to finish tackles that his efforts set up, but on the whole, it was a down year for him in that department.

The good news when it comes to fullbacks is that even the expensive ones are relatively cheap. That is precisely why it’s always been very amusing how some became transfixed by his salary, given its relative insignificance against $200 million-plus salary caps.

Still, I have a hard time seeing the Steelers, or anybody else, looking to sign him for even what he got on his last deal. It’s possible that he even signs for at or near the veteran minimum, which would be especially likely in Pittsburgh. Not only is his family here, there are monetary incentives for doing so as well, which I previously explored.

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