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Steelers Exercise T.J. Watt’s 5th Year Option

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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.

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