It’s pay day for Steelers star defender T.J. Watt.
The 26-year-old finally reached a contract agreement with Pittsburgh — a whopping four-year $112 million extension, with $80 million guaranteed — ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday.
The deal makes Watt the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
Watt led the league with 15 sacks in 2020 and was the runner-up for NFL Defensive Player of the Year the past two seasons. In his first four years as a Steeler, he totaled 49.5 sacks.
Watt and the Steelers reached the blockbuster deal one day after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made it loud and clear his teammate deserved to be paid.
“I think T.J. should get whatever the heck he wants,” Roethlisberger told reporters. “He’s arguably the best football player in the game right now, not just on defense, just in general.”
Roethlisberger also mentioned that he had spoken with Watt throughout the negotiation process.
“One of the reasons I took less money was for guys like him to get paid, and he needs to get paid,” Roethlisberger said. “He deserves every penny that he wants and asks for. T.J. Watt is that guy that should get whatever he wants.”
In March, the 39-year-old took a $5 million pay cut when he signed a new contract, which provided nearly $15 million in cap space for the 2021 season.
During a Tuesday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin expressed optimism that the Watt deal would get done. He also praised the All-Pro linebacker’s physical abilities, energy, passion and readiness to perform — despite Watt’s absence throughout portions of training camp and preseason.
The Steelers visit the Bills in their season opener on Sunday.