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Inside the Details of T.J. Watt’s Record-Breaking Contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers

In September 2021, T.J. Watt inked a lucrative deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, effectively making him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL. This article provides an in-depth look into the details of Watt’s contract, revealing its significant impact on the Steelers’ salary cap over the next few years.

T.J. Watt, a standout linebacker for the Steelers since his rookie year in 2017, signed a four-year contract extension worth $112.011 million in 2021. This substantial agreement came after the Steelers exercised a $10.089 million 5th-year option for Watt in 2020. Notably, this was a significant leap from his initial four-year contract with Pittsburgh in 2017, which was valued at $9.25 million.

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In a strategic move to manage the team’s salary cap, the Steelers converted $9 million of Watt’s 2022 salary into a signing bonus in September 2022. This move successfully cleared $6.75 million of cap space, providing the team with additional financial flexibility.

The APY (average per year) of Watt’s contract is an impressive $28,002,750, positioning him among the top earners in the league. With his current agreement, Watt will remain a staple in the Steelers’ defensive lineup until he becomes a free agent in 2026.

The detailed cap hits for each year of Watt’s contract are as follows:

  • 2021: $8,118,694
  • 2022: $24,368,694
  • 2023: $29,368,694
  • 2024: $30,418,694

Furthermore, Watt’s contract includes a substantial guaranteed amount of $80 million. This guaranteed money comprises the signing bonus and the salaries for the years 2021 through 2023.

T.J. Watt’s contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers exemplifies the significant investments NFL teams are willing to make in top-tier talent. As the Steelers navigate the salary cap implications of this massive contract, Watt will continue to be a defensive powerhouse on the field, earning every penny of his record-breaking deal.