Updated: Aug 1, 2021
(Photo by Diamond Images via Getty Images)
T.J. Watt should be receiving a massive contract extension before the start of the 2021 regular season, and JuJu Smith-Schuster thinks the Steelers should give Watt pretty much whatever he wants.
“For T.J., for sure, 130 (million)?” Smith-Schuster said, “One-hundred forty, 150-mill plus. Easily. No doubt.”
Watt led the league in sacks (15), tackles for a loss (23), and quarterback hits (41) last year. He's also a perennial NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate, finishing second and third in voting for the award the last two seasons. So, his new deal should rival or top Joey Bosa and Myles Garrett's.
In July of 2020, the Browns signed Garrett to a five-year contract extension worth $125 million, with a $50 million signing bonus and $100 million in guaranteed money that would keep him in Cleveland through the 2026 season. Just a few weeks later, the Chargers signed Bosa to a five-year extension worth $135 million, which includes $78 million guaranteed at signing and $102 million overall.
Watt was asked about his contract after Thursday's practice and the All-Pro outside linebacker was mum about it.
“That’s not for me to say,” Watt said. “And that’s pretty much all I’ll say about it.”
Watt did say, however, that holding out never crossed his mind.
“I love this team,” he said. “I love all of the coaches and the staff here and the players, and I am excited to be here. That’s why I am here.
“I love Pittsburgh. Obviously, I would love to be here (long term). But all of those decisions aren’t really mine to be made. So I am just here right now trying to get better every day.”
Longtime Steelers beat reporter Ed Bouchette of The Athletic said on 93.7 The Fan recently that it's 50/50 that Watt gets a mega extension before the start of the season. Bouchette thinks there's hesitation to give a player $30 million a year.
The Steelers should probably take Smith-Schuster suggestion and pay Watt what he's worth, which is the best defensive player in the league not named Aaron Donald. When the dust settles and the negations are finished, I would expect Watt to be the highest-paid edge rusher in the NFL. Every penny would be worth it, too.