T.J. Watt will become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, as he and the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to a four-year contract extension worth at least $112 million, NFL Network and ESPN reported Thursday.
Watt’s new deal will include $80 million fully guaranteed at signing, according to NFL Network.
The 26-year-old outside linebacker has played and started in 62 of a possible 64 games for the Steelers since entering the league. He has already racked up 49 1/2 sacks, including a league-leading 15 last season.
The runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 was entering the fifth-year option of his rookie contract with Pittsburgh and had drawn-out negotiations with the team over the offseason.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently said Watt deserved to make “whatever he wants,” adding that it was for the benefit of teammates like Watt that Roethlisberger took a voluntary pay cut this year.
Guaranteed money was reportedly the sticking point between Watt and the Steelers. Watt’s $80 million guaranteed at signing is the fourth-highest number in the NFL, according to Spotrac, behind only quarterbacks Josh Allen, Dak Prescott and Matt Ryan.
Watt was the 30th overall draft pick in 2017, and at the time was best known for being J.J. Watt’s younger brother. His talent as a pass-rusher translated from Wisconsin to the NFL, where his sack totals have increased every season.
–Field Level Media