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Steelers ‘Optimistic’ They Can Still Ink LB Watt

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While there’s been limited tension between the Steelers and star linebacker T.J. Watt, the Steelers remain ‘optimistic’ about inking him to a new contract.

The two sides need to get things moving though if a new deal is to be had, as the Steelers are just a week away from an opening day showdown with the Buffalo Bills, and a deal needs to get done prior to that.

“Watt has not been practicing in full with his team all preseason and this has been hard on Watt, I’m told, because he’s a football guy all the way. The man is frustrated,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said Sunday.

“He wants to be out there, but he knows the business and he’s going to need to be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, or at least around there. The Steelers know this. They are optimistic that something will get done here in short order, but because of the money involved it’s been a complicated deal.”

Fowler went on to say that Watt is very much in jeopardy to be playing in week one if a deal can’t get done.

“And so, if something’s not done in the next, say, the next 48-to-72 hours, he’s definitely going to be in jeopardy of missing Week 1 because the Steelers stay tried-and-true to guys needing to practice in order to play,” Fowler said.

“He’s been out there in individual drills and things like that, but they need more.”

Watt is set to make $10.1 million in salary this season, the final year of his rookie deal.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly “optimistic” about signing T.J. Watt to a new contract ahead of the 2021 NFL season, but the outside linebacker’s availability for the team’s Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills could be jeopardized if the deal isn’t finalized soon.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported the update Sunday on SportsCenter with one week until the Steelers travel to Highmark Stadium to face the Bills:

“Watt has not been practicing in full with his team all preseason and this has been hard on Watt, I’m told, because he’s a football guy all the way. The man is frustrated. He wants to be out there, but he knows the business and he’s going to need to be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, or at least around there. The Steelers know this. They are optimistic that something will get done here in short order, but because of the money involved it’s been a complicated deal.

“And so, if something’s not done in the next, say, the next 48-to-72 hours, he’s definitely going to be in jeopardy of missing Week 1 because the Steelers stay tried-and-true to guys needing to practice in order to play. He’s been out there in individual drills and things like that, but they need more.”

Watt is scheduled to enter the final year of his rookie contract, which includes a $10.1 million salary for the 2021 season.

Written by Matt Loede

Matt has been a part of the Cleveland Sports landscape working in the media since 1994 when he graduated from broadcasting school. His coverage beats include the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He's written three books, and won the "2020 AP Sports Stringer Lifetime Service Award."

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