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Ex-Steelers Executive Thinks T.J. Watt’s Time Is Limited

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Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt realizes that time is limited and there are no guarantees. His brother, J.J. Watt, retired at the age of 33 after the 2022 season. J.J. dealt with a slew of injuries late in his career that forced him to retire. Aaron Donald retired this offseason at the age of 32.

Watt is heading into his eighth season and will turn 30 on Oct. 11.

“I don’t have forever to play,” Watt recently told Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “I have always approached the game as right now, and I have never taken it for granted, and that hasn’t changed at all.”

T.J. Watt missed seven games in 2022 due to a torn pectoral and knee injury. Last season, he only missed the wild-card playoff game because of a sprained MCL, but he was banged-up for most of the back-end of the regular-season. Outside of the last two seasons, Watt has been relatively healthy throughout his NFL career.

“I don’t know if I want to play forever, but who knows? It is too hard to say,” Watt said. “J.J. always said he didn’t want to play super long, then things happened and he ended up playing longer. I won’t know until that moment comes. I feel great right now, so I am kind of just living in the moment.”

Steelers OLB T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt rushes the passer against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 23, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

93.7 The Fan host Dorin Dickerson recently said he could see Watt retiring soon, similar to Donald. Former Steelers executive and Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley also thinks it’s a real possibility.

“I’m on that line of thinking as well, too, because players want to go out on top,” Whaley told Dickerson. “They don’t want to be that guy that’s hanging around, then he’s just a DPP, they only put him on special pass rush situations. And then these young offensive tackles start hemming them up and yakking them up. And he’s like, ‘Wait a minute.’ He doesn’t want to go out like that.”

Whaley doesn’t think Watt will want to continue to play late into his 30s if he’s not one of the top edge rushers in the NFL.

“He doesn’t want to go out like that, in my opinion,” Whaley added. “I could see that not only with T.J., but with a lot more players because the thing is, the money is so good now, if you get that second contract, and you get that third contract, that’s probably three generations that you’ve provided for. And why are you gonna beat your body up like that? It’s time to move on.”

Watt covets a Super Bowl title, however. He has no playoff wins, too. Not having a playoff win is something that irks the 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He doesn’t want his legacy to be tarnished.

“For me, it is all about no playoff wins,” Watt told Kaboly. “I am trying to do anything I can do. We have so much turnover year to year and so many new guys that it is trying to learn as much as possible coming from guys from other organizations that have done it and won championships since being in the league.

“I am going to do whatever is possible to win. It is about not taking any day for granted, and when it comes down to executing and working, putting everything aside and getting it done.”

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