The Steelers signed linebacker T.J. Watt to a new five-year contract, keeping him in the black and gold long-term.
A dominant force on the defense, Watt was voted the Steelers Most Valuable Player the last two seasons.
Watt, the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, has gotten off to an impressive start in his first four seasons.
Watt has started all 62 games he has played in. He has 49.5 sacks, which ranks as the most in franchise history over a player’s first four NFL seasons. His 49.5 sacks rank third among all defensive players since he entered the NFL in 2017. He also has 230 tackles (168 solo), 25 pass defenses, 17 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
Watt had his best year yet in 2020. In addition to being voted team MVP, he was selected first-team Associated Press All-Pro, elected to the Pro Bowl, was voted 101 Awards AFC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Deacon Jones Award. Watt led the NFL in sacks with a career-high 15, quarterback hits with 41 and tackles for a loss with 23, while adding seven pass defenses, two forced fumbles and an interception.
Watt was solid all season, being named AFC Defensive Player of the Month twice, in September and November.
He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 2 performance against the Denver Broncos. Watt had 2.5 sacks for a loss of 20 yards, four quarterback hits and four tackles. All of the sacks were against Jeff Driskel, who came in after Drew Lock left the game injured.
He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for September after dominating opposing offenses in three straight games. Watt had three and a half sacks, 10 quarterback hits, nine tackles, three tackles for a loss, two pass defenses and an interception for the month.
Watt was also named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November, which included games in Weeks 8-12, a stretch where the Steelers went 5-0, including three AFC North wins, two over the Baltimore Ravens and one over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Watt had 19 tackles, including 13 solo stops, five and a half sacks, 17 quarterback hits, and three pass defenses in November. He had two games with multiple sacks during the five-game stretch, including the Bengals and Ravens (Week 12) games when he had two each.
In 2019, Watt was named AP First-Team All-Pro as an edge rusher, and second team as a linebacker, after finishing the year with 14.5 sacks. He finished with eight forced fumbles, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and 36 quarterback hits. He had multiple sack games four times, including two sacks against both the Rams and Dolphins, and a sack and a half against the Bengals and Colts. In addition to being voted team MVP for the first time in his career, he also was selected to the Pro Bowl. Watt became the only NFL player since 2008 to have at least 14 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 36 quarterback hits, eight forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in a season. Watt is the first player in Steelers history with 14 plus sacks in multiple seasons, doing so in 2019 and 2020.
In 2018, Watt moved to the left outside linebacker spot and it paid dividends for him. Watt led the Steelers’ defense and tied for second among all NFL linebackers with 13 sacks. He was the only NFL player to finish the 2018 regular season with at least 65 total tackles (68), 10 sacks (13) and five defensive forced fumbles (6). He also played in his first Pro Bowl after being named a replacement.
Watt’s career got off to a strong start when he recorded 52 tackles, 39 of them solo stops and finished third on the team with seven sacks, second-most by a rookie in Steelers history. He finished the year with 12 quarterback pressures, eight passes defensed, an interception, forced fumble and blocked field goal. Watt was the only linebacker in the NFL to finish the regular season with 50 tackles (52), five sacks (seven), five passes defensed (eight) and one interception (one).
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