Updated: Sep 27, 2020
Let’s just start by stating that the NFL robbed TJ Watt from becoming the Defensive Player of the Year last season. Plain and Simple. TJ Watt has been one of the most productive players as an Outside Linebacker ever for the Steelers Franchise… Well James Harrison does deserve credit too, but TJ Watt is on par to shatter James Harrison (pending Super Bowl Wins) and will eventually break his records. Watt had 14.5 Sacks in 2019; 1.5 sacks shy of breaking James Harrisons all-time single season sack record of 16. TJ Watt had a monster 2019 season with 55 Combined Tackles, 20 Assists, 14.5 Sacks, and 2 INT’s for 7 yards. His 2018 Season had 68 Combined Tackles, 18 Assists, 13.0 Sacks. In two years, TJ Watt has 163 Combined Tackles, 38 Assists, 27.5 Sacks and 2 INT’s in just TWO SEASONS!
Khalil Mack deserves every penny of his contract. The guy is a destroyer on the field. He recently got a 6-year $141 million mega contract extension with the Bears. Let’s look at his stats in the last two seasons. His 2019 Season he had 47 combined tackles, 7 assists, 8.5 sacks. In 2018 Mack had 47 combined tackles, 10 assists, 12.5 sacks. In two years, Khalil Mack has 94 combined tackles, 17 assists and 21 sacks. TJ Watt has clearly been better than Kahlil Mack with numbers over the past two years. Yes, Khalil Mack is on another level, but it just shows how great TJ Watt is in the Steelers System. The last Steeler to get paid big as a Linebacker was LaMarr Woodley when the Steelers paid him a 6-year $61.5 million contract.
The NFL system is going to complicate things for the Steelers. The Browns signed Myles Garrett to a $100 million-dollar contract extension with a guaranteed $50 million. The Chargers also signed Joey Bosa to a $135 million contract with $78 million fully guaranteed. That is huge money for edge rushers, and it looks to be setting the market in the NFL for them. It’s time for the Steelers to come into the 21st Century. They cannot continue to be the finishing school for linebackers. Linebackers come to the Steelers, get great and then get paid by another team. Then they fizzle away. The Steelers have found a gem in TJ Watt who can join the likes of James Harrison, Gregg Lloyd, Jack Ham and even the great Jack Lambert. All TJ Watt must do is stay healthy, stay in the Steelers system and continue the way he is producing, and he will become the highest paid Defensive Player in Steelers History.