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Chris Jones, Myles Garrett, TJ Watt

Why the Chris Jones and Myles Garrett contracts make it tougher for Steelers to extend TJ Watt

Chris Jones, Myles Garrett, and TJ Watt might all realize that imitation is highest form of flattery. In professional sports, these two things exist abundantly, but more of the former.

Sports around the world are copycat leagues. Whether it is the NBA, the Spanish La Liga, or even Korea and Esports, we look at the best teams in the best leagues and we tend to emulate them. When the Warriors went on a rampage in the NBA, everyone including your local team started jacking up threes like they were playing in The Bay. When J.J. Redick and Kyle Korver started getting big money, the floodgates opened. This one form of imitation is something owners and teams across the globe would probably want to end.

What should TJ Watt consider? In today’s age of lighting-quick news and online everything, player contract news can spread like wildfire in a matter of milliseconds, burning down potential negotiations between teams and their stars along the way. Just take Kansas City Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes’ new historic contract as an example.

Over a week ago the Super Bowl winning quarterback inked a deal that will earn him around $503 million over the next ten years. On the flip side, Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott failed to reach an agreement with the team and will play the upcoming season on $31.4 million franchise tag. Although Dak has already addressed the situation and still seems happy about being in Dallas, I think anyone would agreed that Mahomes’ massive deal crossed Prescott’s mind at least once or twice while mulling the Cowboys’ offer. And even if Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson just joked on Twitter when he heard of his draft classmate’s new deal, I’m pretty there will be less laughing and smiling when it comes time to negotiate his own extension.

Now, these are quarterbacks and as we all know, especially in today’s game, teams have no problem overpaying their man under center. In an offense-favored NFL, teams tend to prioritize their signal-callers so Dallas and Houston aren’t in as tough a situation as other team like the Pittsburgh Steelers are.

Unlike the two Texas franchises, Pittsburghs dilemma revolves around someone who plays on the other side of the ball, star linebacker TJ Watt.

You probably know that TJ Watt is the youngest of three Watt brothers currently playing in the NFL. He is currently teammates with brother Derek, who play fullback for the Steelers offense, and their eldest is three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans. Now those are really big shoes to fill for T.J. and he’ll need an even bigger contract if the Steelers want to keep him in Pittsburgh.

This past week, both Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett were signed to monster deals that completely reshaped the market for defenders Chris Jones. Jones will brought back by the Chiefs on a four-year $85 million deal with $60 million in guaranteed money. Garrett on the other hand, signed a five-year $125 million contract with $100 million guaranteed making him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.

It’s a no-brainer for the Steelers to resign TJ Watt.

After a year when he set career highs across the board, including 14.5 sack, 36 QB hits, and a league-high eight forced fumbles, no team in their right mind would let TJ Watt walk especially having witnessed the damage his older brother has done to opposing backfields throughout the years. The questions in Pittsburgh is not if they should extend Watt but  if they can actually afford it.

The six-time NFL champs have two main problems:

First, their core of young stars are all looking to get their second contracts done the same time as TJ Watt. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Bud Dupree, and James Conner are Pittsburgh’s main concern in this department and what makes things worse is that the salary cap will most likely take a hit after this season because of the projected losses due to the pandemic. Second, the Steelers still have to retain some of their main guys including defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

It is still possible for the Steelers to resign their star linebackers even if they choose to retain most of the mentioned players, but TJ Watt will have to settle for a much less lucrative payday.