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According to multiple reports, pass rusher T.J. Watt and the Pittsburgh Steelers have agreed on a massive extension that will make him the NFL's highest-paid defensive player.
Watt will sign a four-year extension worth north of $112 million with $80 million of it guaranteed at signing, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported.
Watt himself later confirmed his deal on Twitter.
If it’s ok with Yinz, I’d like to stay a while!! LETS GO PITTSBURGH!!!! pic.twitter.com/itjnF7XNLd
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) September 9, 2021
The extension would set the high-water mark for average-per-year salary — not just among edge rushers at more than $28 million per year, but also any other defensive player in the league. (The Chargers' Joey Bosa currently is tops at $27 million per year on average.)
The $80 million guaranteed at signing also would be tops in the league on defense, edging out Bosa's $78 million with his prior deal. The Chicago Bears' Khalil Mack still has the highest total value of any deal signed at $141 million, although that was with a six-year contract.
Watt's average-per-year mark also would be better than several starting quarterbacks, including the San Francisco 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo, the Los Angeles Rams' Matthew Stafford, the Las Vegas Raiders' Derek Carr and, yes, even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady.
Several Steelers players, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, campaigned for Watt to be paid like a premier edge rusher. It appears to have worked — and now Watt is close to doubling his quarterback in average salary, with Roethlisberger currently checking in at $14 million per year.
Watt had returned to practice after staging a "hold-in" of sorts, wanting a new deal. With the season opener against the Bills in Buffalo looming, Watt was back on the field Wednesday. Naturally, he's expected to play Sunday in a game where the Steelers are 6.5-point underdogs, per BetMGM.