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First and 10

First and 10: T.J. Watt Got Paid. Who’s Next?

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The Steelers finally got T.J. Watt under contract on Thursday, signing the star outside linebacker to a four-year contract worth $80 million in guaranteed money.

It’s been an arduous process that came right down to the wire, and reportedly didn’t end until Watt charged into Art Rooney II’s office after practice on Thursday and got the deal done himself.

With Watt’s deal, the Steelers will turn the page and head into the regular season, where the team notoriously does not negotiate new contracts.

But there is a laundry list of players that need them, so when that self-imposed ban lifts, Kevin Colbert will have some heavy lifting to do.

After the 2021 season, nine Steelers starters or regulars will become unrestricted free agents: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington, tight end Eric Ebron, tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, guard Trai Turner, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, safety Terrell Edmunds and cornerback Joe Haden.

Several more will be in the same position that Watt was in this year: entering the final season of team control. That list includes star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who said on Thursday that he’s been watching Watt’s process closely, tackle Zach Banner, cornerback Cam Sutton, wide receiver Diontae Johnson and defensive linemen Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt.

That’s a lot of work to do, but for now, Colbert, Omar Khan and company have earned their rest. A significantly higher salary cap in 2022 will make a lot of that work easier.

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

STEELERS HEADLINES

🏈 Watt expressed his excitement at staying in PittsburghAustin Bechtold

🏈 Steelers players past and present react to Watt’s contract. Mike Asti

🏈 Comparing Watt’s deal to other big-time edge rushers. Nick Farabaugh

🏈 Steelers Injury Updates: OLB Alex Highsmith missed practice with groin injury. Alan Saunders

🏈 Bill Cowher, Alan Faneca, Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell will get their Hall of Fame rings in a ceremony at Heinz Field Oct. 17Saunders

🏈 Where Steelers-Bills will be on TVSaunders

🏈 There’s a new place to park on the North Shore. Saunders

🏈 Michael Keaton and Seth Meyers talk Steelers fandomSaunders

🏈 The Steelers hosted veterans groups for their Heroes at Heinz event. Saunders

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AT THE BETTING WINDOW

🏈 Sportsbook: 2% of Super Bowl futures money on Steelers. Saunders

🏈 Someone bet $1,000 on Chase Claypool leading the NFL in receiving TDs. Saunders

AROUND THE NFL

🏈 Ravens lost RB Gus Edwards and CB Marcus Peters to knee injuries on Thursday. Cale Berger

STEELERS HISTORY

🏈 2020 David DeCastro missed pracice with what became a nagging injury. Berger

🏈 2019 Longtime Steelers guard Sam Davis died at the age of 75. Saunders

🏈 2018 The Steelers and Cleveland Browns played their way to a 21-21, the last time the Steelers tied a game.

🏈 1996 Tight end Zach Gentry was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

AROUND THE NETWORK

Steelers Now: T.J Watt is staying in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Penguins core has one more year.

Pittsburgh Sports Now: Maceo Austin leaves Duquesne BB team

WVU Sports Now: WVU FB unveils Sept. 11 tribute uniform

Pittsburgh Baseball Now: Five Pirates prospects to play in Dominican Winter League.

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