Report: Steelers make Watt highest-paid defender with 4-year, $112M deal

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and star pass-rusher T.J. Watt agreed to a four-year extension worth more than $112 million, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

The deal reportedly includes $80 million in guaranteed money and makes Watt the highest-paid defender in NFL history.

Watt's new $28-million average annual salary tops the $27-million average earned by Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, per Spotrac.

Watt was a full participant at practice for the first time Wednesday after he skipped team drills during camp while seeking a long-term extension. Watt's agents believed he could get more money on the new pact, but Watt overruled them by walking into the office of Steelers president Art Rooney II on Thursday to say he accepted the proposed contract, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The three-time Pro Bowler quickly established himself as one of the NFL's top outside linebackers after the Steelers drafted him 30th overall in 2017. The Wisconsin product led the league with 15 sacks and 23 tackles for loss last season while also amassing 53 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one interception. He was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 to Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

The 26-year-old Watt, who also topped the NFL with eight forced fumbles in 2019, has racked up 49.5 sacks and 17 forced fumbles through 62 career appearances.

Watt's older brother, J.J., was once also football's highest-paid defender. The Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman inked a then-record six-year, $100-million extension in 2014 while playing for the Houston Texans.

The Steelers have topped 50 regular-season sacks each year since drafting Watt, leading all teams in that category in three of the last four seasons. Pittsburgh kicks off its 2021 campaign against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Report: Steelers make Watt highest-paid defender with 4-year, $112M deal
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