Gold Lot Sports - What the T.J. Watt Signing Means for the Pittsburgh Steelers

                                                            (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

In case you missed it, last night the Steelers gave T.J. Watt the contract he was looking for to end his holdout, signing him to a four year, $112 million contract extension, $80 million of which is fully guaranteed.  This new deal makes him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, earning him an average of $28 million annually.

Distraction Gone

That certainly is a lot of money to give one guy, especially in an era of football where injuries are so prevalent.  But, I believe it was important that the Steelers got this deal done before the season starts in a few days.  As Antonio Wolfe wrote about earlier this week, his holdout had become a distraction to the team and fans heading into the season.  

Allowing contract negotiations to linger into the season only creates tension between the player and the team throughout the course of the year.  Once Week 1 hits, the focus should be on the field, not the behind the scenes dealings.  With that now settled, Watt can put his full attention into making an impact on the Steeler defense for years to come.  

Teammate Excitement

Coming off a 2020 season where Watt led the league with 15.5 sacks, his fellow teammates expect to see similar production now that their guy got paid.  Quite a few teammates vocalized their excitement on Twitter about Watt getting the contract he wanted, including Cam Heyward, Juju Smith-Schuster and Joe Haden.  

I think this is another key aspect that can sometimes get overlooked when these type of holdouts and contract negotiations occur.  All of the players take notice during this back and forth between team and player because it shows a lot about their organization.  Not only to do they want to see one of the key players on their team return but it creates a precedent that they too can get the contract they're looking for if they continue to excel in their role.  

Not to mention, it can also create a united locker room seeing their teammate happy to be staying for the foreseeable future. It also shows that the team saw the same value in a player that they see in themselves.  This was pretty evident in Watt's deal.  

Per Adam Schefter, Watt defied his agents and signed the deal even though they believed he could get more money.  That shows just how much Watt wanted to continue to wear the black and gold on Sundays, something all Steelers fans, and players, are thrilled to see.

All in all, I like this a lot for the Steelers.  Of course it's always difficult to pay that much money to one guy because it can really hamstring the organization from re-signing current players or adding free agents down the road.  But now, this defense returns one of the biggest playmakers on that side of the ball in the entire league.  

I've talked a few times about how this defense looked flat so far this preseason so hopefully this will be the spark the team needs to right the ship heading into the season.  We'll get our first look at this hopefully revitalized defense when they head into Bills Mafia territory Sunday against Josh Allen and the potent Bills offense.


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