Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that he is optimistic about the chances of getting linebacker T.J. Watt signed to an extension before the first game of the regular season, but a report later in the day indicated that the team’s traditional refusal to guarantee money beyond the first year of the deal has become a major roadblock to getting anything done.
Count quarterback Ben Roethlisberger among those who wants to see the Steelers break from tradition when it comes to making sure Watt is around for years to come. Roethlisberger was asked about Watt’s contract on Wednesday and made it clear that he thinks the Steelers should show Watt the money.
“I think T.J. should get whatever the heck he wants,” Roethlisberger said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “He’s arguably the best football player in the game right now. Not just on defense, but in general. I’ve been through a few negotiations here with contracts. One of the reasons I took less money was for guys like him to get paid. He needs to get paid. He deserves every penny he wants and asks for. T.J. Watt is that guy who should get whatever he wants.”
Roethlisberger likely would be gone from Pittsburgh had he not agreed to take less money this season, so that aspect of his answer might be stretching things a bit. The overall point is unchanged, however, and there will be plenty of people watching to see if the Steelers and Watt can make a deal by Sunday.