The deal the football world has been waiting on all preseason to be finalized has reached its breaking point hours before the NFL’s opening night kickoff.
The Steelers and outside linebacker T.J. Watt agreed Thursday to a four-year, $112 million deal with $80 million guaranteed to become the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
Despite already breaking the bank more than any other defender, Watt’s agents believed the two-time all-pro rusher could have leveraged more money from the organization. Watt took matters into his own hands and relayed the news to Steelers owner Art Rooney II that he has agreed to the deal moments before heading back to work in preparation for week one.
Steelers’ OLB T.J. Watt overruled his agents who believed they could get more money today, marched into the office of Steelers president Art Rooney and told him they had a deal. Then the NFL’s new highest-paid defensive player excused himself and announced he had to go work out.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2021
Watt’s deal is one year less than the five-year contracts signed by the Los Angeles Chargers’ Joey Bosa and Browns’ Myles Garrett but includes more guaranteed money than the other two AFC pash rushers.
Steelers past and present in addition to stars from across the league expressed their praise, excitement, and congratulations to Watt before the fifth-year player confirmed the deal himself on social media.
The three-time pro bowler recorded league highs in sacks (15) and tackles-for-loss (23) during the 2020 seasons and eight forced fumbles in 2019. Watt, 26, has recorded 49.5 sacks, 59 tackles-for-loss, 111 QB hits, four interceptions, 230 total tackles, and 17 forced fumbles over 62 games in a Black and Gold uniform.