It turns out Pittsburgh Steelers 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had little to worry about regarding the future of star pass-rusher T.J. Watt, who is no longer heading into Sunday's regular-season opener at the Buffalo Bills on the final year of his contract.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Watt has agreed to a historic four-year extension that could be worth over $112 million total and that includes $80 million in fully-guaranteed money:
Sources: The #Steelers and star pass-rusher TJ Watt have a mega-deal. He’s going to sign a 4-year extension worth more than $112M — $28.003M average per year — with $80M fully guaranteed at signing. The highest paid defensive player in football.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2021
The highest guaranteed for a defensive player and its the #Steelers who do it. The organization broke protocol to get their best defensive player signed. Just a massive deal. The $80M is fully guaranteed for skill, injury and cap. https://t.co/tdatr2Mv6P— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2021
Watt is a two-time First-Team All-Pro who led the NFL last season with 15 sacks and is unquestionably one of the best defensive players in the game today:
Over the last three years, TJ Watt has led the #NFL in QB Hits (102) and been second in sacks (42.5) and— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 7, 2021
QB pressures (174).
Just b/c a team has always DONE things one way doesn’t mean it should continue to DO them the same way. #Steelers
Watt only returned to practice in a team setting on Wednesday after relegating himself to individual drills throughout his summer "hold-in," and NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala previously reported Watt's camp and the Steelers couldn't agree on the amount of guaranteed money attached to the extension. That's no longer an issue just in time for what could, on paper, be a top-tier showdown in Buffalo on Sunday afternoon.