T.J. Watt Rumors: Steelers Aiming to Sign Star to New Contract Ahead of 2021 Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2021

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 21: Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals on December 21, 2020, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly "taking a swing" at signing star pass-rusher T.J. Watt to a contract extension before the season begins, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB. 

Watt, who will make $10 million this season, is set to hit unrestricted free agency after the 2021 campaign. 

To this point, Watt hasn't spoken publicly about any contract negotiations or the possibility of an extension. 

Mark Kaboly @MarkKaboly

T.J. Watt was asked about his impending extension: "With respect to the process, I am not going to be talking about any contract stuff today."Watt then cracked a smile.<br><br>It was almost like was reminded question was going to be asked and how to answer. What say you <a href="https://twitter.com/SteelersPRMike?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SteelersPRMike</a>

He maintained that approach over the weekend.

"I love Pittsburgh," Watt told reporters Saturday. "I would love to be here. All those decisions aren't mine to be made. I am just here right now and doing my best each and every day."

The Steelers don't traditionally negotiate extensions during the season, so the two sides have a little over a month to figure it out. 

Watt, 26, was superb in 2020, leading the NFL in sacks (15) and tackles for loss (26) while adding 41 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, an interception and seven passes defensed. Despite those gaudy numbers, he finished second to Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald for Defensive Player of the Year. 

"It doesn't matter," Watt said of missing out on the award. "Winning the Super Bowl is all that really matters in the grand scheme of things. I'm coming out here, I love football and I am trying to get better each and every day. There are so many aspects of my game that need work. Learning and improving my game is what I'm most excited about this season."

There's little doubt that Watt is a star off the edge, with three straight seasons of 13 or more sacks. Whether via extension or come free agency, he's going to get paid. The Steelers also hold the option of using the franchise tag to keep him in Pittsburgh next offseason, though both sides would almost assuredly prefer a long-term agreement.