If You Think The Steelers Overpaid Watt You're Right, But It's Not T.J.


This past offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers built an offense based around having a good offensive line.  Unfortunately, they forgot one thing.  They do not have a good offensive line. 

The Steelers offensive game plan so far is trying to establish the run with Najee Harris and giving Ben Roethlisberger enough time for his receivers to get open.  Ben has an entourage of star wide receivers, but on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders, none of these receivers were able to get any separation before there was a gray and silver defender in the backfield.  Even short passes were being disrupted by the Raiders defensive line.  As Ben ages, so do his legs, and his ability to avoid the rush decreases.

It certainly hurts that the highest paid Steeler offensive lineman, Zach Banner, is currently injured.  However, even before the Banner injury it was known the O-line was weak.  The problem in the offseason was that the Steelers were up against the cap, and they knew they’d want to extend superstar linebacker T.J. Watt.  There was not enough cap space available to sign anyone who could make a real impact on the O-line.  As expected, and deserved, T.J. Watt became the highest paid defensive player in the league and keeping that cap space turned out to be necessary. 

However, the Steelers have the help they need on the roster.  In fact, he has the 13th largest contract on the roster.  His last name is also Watt.  Derek Watt.

Fullback or Special Teams?

A lot of fans were against the signing of fullback Derek Watt when the Steelers brought him on board in March of 2020.  Speculation was that if Derek did not have the famous last name that he does, especially as a fullback, his contract would not be even close to the 3 years and $9.75 million that the Steelers agreed to.  Fullbacks are a dying breed in the NFL and the salary cap should be used elsewhere. 

I would think, as a fan who is using the eye-ball test for most of my evaluation, that Ben needs more protection.  Additionally, I would like to see Najee Harris get an additional blocker in front of him.  To those points, why has Derek Watt only been on the field for four of the Steelers offensive snaps?

Contrary to what I have seen on social media lately, I don’t think Matt Canada is a dumb guy.  I also think if he had an effective fullback, he would use him.  This tells me that Derek Watt is not an effective fullback.  If Canada had a weapon to protect Ben and his new shiny superstar Najee, he would use him.  It is Watt that is failing Canada, not the other way around.

Before you start yelling at me in the Facebook comments, I know Derek Watt plays mostly on special teams.  This season he has one solo tackle and helped to combine on one as well.  But don’t you see?  This is my point exactly. 

I’m writing about the 3rd highest paid fullback in the NFL and the only argument in favor is that “he plays special teams.”  This certainly makes him the most overpaid special teams player in the league, no?  If the only counter to my argument of him being an overpaid fullback is that he plays special teams, what are we doing here?

In a league where all we hear about is the salary cap is too tight or this guy can’t be resigned because of the cap, the signing of Derek Watt was a complete and total waste.  Maybe, just maybe, the signing of Derek partially showed the loyalty the Steelers have to their family, and that convinced T.J. to stay.  In which case, that is the only way Derek is earning his contract.  Otherwise, if he cannot protect Ben or open up holes for Najee, he is very overpaid and this was a bad move by the Steelers.