After quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters on Wednesday that Watt should get “whatever the heck he wants,” Heyward expressed a similar sentiment when speaking to the media on Thursday morning.
“We all feel like T.J. should be paid,” Heyward said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “He’s put in the time and the work. He’s a productive player. His injury history — he’s been out here, he doesn’t miss much games. He’s a game-changer. And my conversations with him are, he should be paid. It’s not anything to gloss over. I just think this guy has been a contributor for us for a long time and where he got drafted, we were very lucky. We all knew he was going to be a player here, and he’s answered the call and done more.”
Watt effectively ended his “hold-in” on Wednesday by fully participating in practice. He previously had sat out team drills. Head coach Mike Tomlin has maintained that he anticipates Watt will play in the season opener against Buffalo.
But Watt and the Steelers ostensibly are running out of time to secure a new deal for the edge rusher, as Pittsburgh does not traditionally negotiate contracts in-season.
The Steelers selected Watt at No. 30 overall in 2017. Through four seasons he’s recorded 49.5 sacks, 59 tackles for loss, 111 quarterback hits, and 17 forced fumbles.