Steelers president Art Rooney II told reporters after the season that the team obviously would do what it takes to assure T.J. Watt remains in the black and gold long term. Rooney was not quite as adamant during a fan chat Thursday.
Watt is set to make $10.089 million on the fifth-year option in 2021 before he’s scheduled to become a free agent in 2022. It would come as a surprise if the Steelers didn’t sign Watt to a long-term deal whether it’s before this season, after this season or before the start of training camp in 2022.
The Steelers will have the franchise tag at their disposal next year.
“We’re certainly going to try [to sign Watt long term],” Rooney said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “T.J. 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, 26, finished second in defensive player of the year voting last season, garnering 20 votes to Aaron Donald‘s 27.
Since Watt entered the league in 2017, only Donald and Chandler Jones have more sacks than Watt’s 49.5. Watt’s 15 sacks last season led the NFL.