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The Steelers and All-Pro outside linebacker TJ Watt are in the middle of contract negotiations, and Ben Roethlisberger hopped on the mic this morning to let the team know they’re at Watt’s mercy. Watt had 15 sacks and a pick last year as the anchor of the defense, so ol’ QB1 has a point.
“I think TJ should be able to get whatever the heck he wants,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday morning after practice. “He’s arguably one of the best football players in the game right now, not just on defense…in general.”
Here’s where Roethlisberger really hits the mark:
“One of the reasons I took less money is for guys like him to get paid and he needs to get paid. He deserves to get paid every penny that he asks for because TJ is that guy.”
Ben Roethlisberger sending a pretty clear message to the Steelers front office: give TJ Watt everything he wants and give it to him now. pic.twitter.com/IJAtU49CPb
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 8, 2021
He’s not wrong because if their starting quarterback is taking a discount, then who exactly are the Steelers paying? The whole point of taking a discount is to relocate funds elsewhere to re-sign the players that make the team ‘go.’
TJ Watt IS the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. Without him, they’re a completely different look. When you have a linebacker with an ability to annihilate the opposing quarterback to the tune of 15 sacks in a season, that guy is worth having long term. And unfortunately for the Steelers, that requires the team to be at the mercy of a player’s every demand.
Khalil Mack holds the record for the largest contract ever for an outside linebacker at six years, $141 million with $60 million guaranteed. It’s entirely possible we see Watt eclipse that number as the cap is expected to rise, so don’t be startled if we see a deal north of $150 million.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 8, 2021