Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt returned to being a full participant in practice on Wednesday, without a contract extension in hand, a fair sign that he will play in the team’s season opener in Buffalo on Sunday, whether or not he had a new deal.
That’s a big win for the Steelers, as the circus of a star player holding out is never good for a team, not to mention the fact that Watt is probably their single best player. They’re going to need him, going into Buffalo as touchdown underdogs.
But it’s not good enough for the Steelers that their star player lives up to his contract.
Since the very start of this offseason, the Steelers brass has taken the unusual step of talking somewhat openly about getting Watt extended. Way back in April, president Art Rooney II addressed a new deal for Watt.
“I can assure you we’ll do everything we can to keep T.J. on the roster beyond this year,” Rooney said. “That is the goal.”
He reiterated that last sentence once again in August, after negotiations had likely already begun. The team took pains to re-work contracts in order to make sure it had enough salary cap space to absorb any 2021 impact a Watt deal could create.
Three of the team’s highest-profile players: defensive lineman Cam Heyward, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster have made their stance public that the Steelers absolutely need to extend Watt.
If a team that went into an offseason saying its goal was to sign a player to an extension, made other deals with the express purpose of leaving room for said extension and then was unable to seal the deal before breaking off talks due to its own self-imposed rules, then that team had a failure of an offseason, buy its own and any other subjective definition.
News and notes from around the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League.
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AROUND THE NFL
🏈 2020 Steelers LB Ryan Shazier officially retired from football. Saunders
🏈 2019 Steelers traded QB Josh Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Saunders
🏈 2007 Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin earned his first win as an NFL head coach, as the Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns, 34-7.
🏈 1937 Pro Football Hall of Famer and longtime Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was born in London, Ohio.
LeBeau was the Steelers defensive backs coach from 1992-94 and defensive coordinator from 1995-96 and 2004-14, leading the team to four Super Bowls and two titles. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
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