The Steelers have exercised the fifth-year option on the contract of outside linebacker T.J. Watt, the team announced on Tuesday.
Watt, 25, is set to enter his fourth year with the Steelers this fall after joining the team as a first-round draft pick out of Wisconsin in 2017.
All first-round rookie contracts come with a fifth-year option. After exercising the option on Watt, he will be with the Steelers through at least the end of the 2021 season. The exact salary figures for 2017 draft class options has not yet been released.
The Steelers previously exercised their fifth-year option for 2015 first-round pick, linebacker Bud Dupree in advance of the 2018 season. They declined to extend the contract of 2016 first-round pick, cornerback Artie Burns this offseason, and he signed with the Chicago Bears in free agency.
Watt has started 48 of 49 games for the Steeles since he was drafted. In 2018, he led the NFL with eight forced fumbles and also set career highs in sacks (14.5), tackles for loss (14), passes defended (eight), fumbles recovered (four), interceptions (two) and quarterback hits (35). He was named to his second Pro Bowl and was selected as a first-team All-Pro for the first time in his career.
Watt was one of several Steelers players that were set to become a free agent following the end of the 2020 season, along with Dupree, defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, cornerback Joe Haden, running back James Conner, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and tackles Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva, among others.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/18/20
James Conner tested out his injured ankle and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Chase Claypool during practice on Friday, September 18, 2020.
This practice was in preparation for the Steelers week 2 game on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Cam Heyward Named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has been named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1.
Heyward was honored for installing his first Little Free Library, a book-sharing box placed in underserved communities around the Pittsburgh area.
Congrats to @camheyward on being named Week 1 #CommunityMVP for installing his first Little Free Library. The book-sharing boxes provide 24-7 access to literacy for underserved Pittsburgh communities while honoring the legacy in education of his late grandfather. pic.twitter.com/uKwbnz28A1— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 18, 2020
Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
The installation of the book-sharing boxes marks the launch of the Rufus and Judy Jordan Literacy Project, a new initiative of the Cameron Heyward Foundation that will work to promote children’s literacy and honor his late grandparents, both of whom were lifelong educators in Pittsburgh.
Drafted in first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward has spend his entire career in Pittsburgh. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, and has twice received First-Team All-Pro honors.
Heyward and the Steelers agreed to a four-year, $71.4 million contract extension on Sept. 6 that will allow him to retire in Pittsburgh and make him the highest-paid defense player over the age of 30 in NFL history.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/17/20
The Steelers finally experienced a practice with almost everyone on the roster able to take the field. Only two players did not take part in practice before their week 2 game against Denver.
Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick stood out from the rest on Thursday, September 17, 2020.