Rooney: Steelers Will Do 'Everything We Can' to Sign T.J. Watt to New Contract

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMarch 25, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90) warms up with teammates during an NFL football training camp practice, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Pittsburgh. Watt is coming off a season in which he finished with 14 1/2 sacks and reached the Pro Bowl for the second straight year. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Art Rooney II isn't expecting T.J. Watt to play for another NFL franchise anytime soon despite just one year remaining on the linebacker's contract. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Rooney made clear re-signing Watt remains a top priority for the club moving forward.

"We're certainly going to try," Rooney said, per ESPN's Brooke Pryor. "TJ has another year on his contract. We look at him as a key player in our future. I can assure you we're going to do everything we can to keep him on the roster."

Watt has been a revelation since the Steelers drafted him No. 30 overall out of Wisconsin in 2017. The linebacker has played in 62 games over his first four seasons in the league, racking up 230 total tackles, 49.5 sacks, 25 pass deflections, 17 forced fumbles and four interceptions while being named an All-Pro each of the last two seasons. 

To say the brother of Derek and J.J. Watt outplayed his rookie contract would be a massive understatement. 

To that end, T.J. Watt will earn $10.1 million in 2021 with the Steelers exercising the fifth-year option on his current deal. 

Watt could blow well past that AAV should he reach free agency after the coming season. 

Spotrac projects Watt's market value at $25.4 million annually and pegs him to sign for $127.4 million over five years, making him the highest-paid outside linebacker in the league and the 14th highest-paid player in football. 

That type of money would put him in line with the likes of Myles Garrett ($25 million AAV), Joey Bosa ($27 million AAV) and Frank Clark ($20.8 million AAV).

Yet that salary could be on the low end for Watt if he indeed reaches unrestricted free agency.