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First and 10

First and 10: Contract Crunch Time for Steelers’ T.J. Watt, Others

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News and notes from around the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League.

T.J. Watt has not fully practiced with the Steelers this training camp as he continues to wait for a new contract that goes beyond the 2021 season.

So far, the Steelers insist that has not been an issue, as Watt has done the individual work he’s been asked to do, and to this point, the rest of the Steelers veteran starters have barely played in a preseason game. That will start to change on Thursday night, as head coach Mike Tomlin said he expects to infuse more players into the lineup the second time around.

At some point, Watt needs to get at least some full-speed work before the start of the season. Yes, every team went without a preseason in 2020, but that was equal. Bills right tackle Daryl Williams will have three games played this season when he squares off against Watt on Sept. 12. The clock is ticking on the Steelers’ outside linebacker being able to have an equivalent build-up.

The length of Watt’s hold-in also impacts the other Steelers that hanging around waiting for a new contract. Cornerback Joe Haden said he’d like a new deal, but knows he has to wait for Watt’s contract. Wide receiver James Washington, who either did or did not ask for a trade, depending on who you’d like to believe, is also a player the Steelers could be looking to extend. Starting safety Terrell Edmunds and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor are also entering the final seasons of their contracts.

The Steelers won’t know how much cap space they have to work with for 2021 and beyond until they complete a deal with Watt. Those less-important players can’t jump the line. But the Steelers don’t negotiate in-season, and general manager Kevin Colbert told me this preseason that even though the team has broken some new ground contract-wise this year, that is something they don’t envision changing.

So the queue behind Watt is growing, and the clock is ticking. Oh, and he might cost $30 million a season. It’s a tough spot for the Steelers.

STEELERS HEADLINES

🏈 LG Kevin Dotson has been frustrated by missing time with an ankle injury Nick Farabaugh

🏈 Training Camp Takeaways: Offense sloppy in rain-soaked practice No. 15. Farabaugh

🏈 Veteran Steelers guard Trai Turner is taking the line’s youngerster under his wing. Farabaugh

🏈 James Washington isn’t expected to be out long, but he’s one of a number of players doubtful for Thursday. Alan Saunders

🏈 Mason Rudolph will start for the Steelers in Philly. Farabaugh

🏈 Sporting News says Diontae Johnson is the No. 28 wide receiver in the NFL. Cale Berger

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AROUND THE NFL

🏈 The Bengals are not expected to get a new deal done with safety Jesse Bates III, ESPN reports. Berger

🏈 Ravens rookie WR Rashod Bateman has a groin injury that could be serious. Berger

STEELERS HISTORY

🏈 2002 Justin Layne returned from the COVID-19 list and the Steelers cut CB Breon Borders. Saunders

🏈 2019 The Steelers announced the death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake. Saunders

🏈 1962 Former Steelers tight end, longtime Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach and South Fayette native Jonathan Hayes was born.

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