Typically the Pittsburgh Steelers organization does not like to negotiate deals once the Steelers get to the regular season. Normally that is always the case, but TJ Watt could be a big exception in regards to the way Pittsburgh likes to do things. There is no doubt that TJ Watt is one of the most elite players the Pittsburgh Steelers have had in recent years. In fact, Pro Football Focus feels TJ Watt has been the best Steelers draft pick at number 30 since 2006. That is how much the media loves to watch Watt in Pittsburgh.
Ron Cook believes talks between the Steelers and TJ Watt will start to heat up this summer. Even though the team has a policy of not negotiating once the regular season begins. He says 'it's always possible that the Steelers will allow Watt to play out his contract in 2021 and then put their franchise tag on him in 2022.' That would assure Watt will be with the Pittsburgh Steelers for two seasons. Cook says the franchise tag is not what the Pittsburgh Steelers and TJ Watt want going forward.
Cook feels it is reasonable to think TJ Watt will get a better contract than a five-year, $125 million dollar deal with $100 million guaranteed in 2022. That is the exact contract Myles Garrett received in Cleveland. Joey Bosa also signed a five-year, $135 million dollar deal with $102 million guaranteed. I would think the Steelers will need to find numbers around $140 million with $105 million guaranteed in order to get a long-term deal done with TJ Watt. That would make him the highest-paid defender in the NFL and allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to keep their star edge rusher in Pittsburgh going forward.
Kevin Colbert has been on the record saying the Steeler's intentions are to keep TJ Watt in Pittsburgh. Art Rooney II has also said signing TJ Watt is a priority for Pittsburgh. So this could be an interesting summer especially if the Steelers decide to start negotiating with TJ Watt before the regular season begins. It would not be shocking if the Steelers have already started talking to TJ Watt about a new contract, but it would also not be shocking if they wait until his contract runs out in 2021. I think at this point I would start negotiating with TJ Watt and find out what would make him happy.
I would not wait until the end of the 2021 season to start negotiating with Watt because if things go south in regards to negotiations then the Steelers will have no other option but to franchise tag him and again according to Ron Cook that is not the intentions both sides have going forward at this point. If I were the Pittsburgh Steelers I would find a way to sign TJ Watt at all costs. He is the backbone of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and once the Steelers sign a long-term deal with Watt I would then start working with Minkah Fitzpatrick on a long-term deal.