In a move surprising no one, the Pittsburgh Steelers have exercised the fifth year option on a T.J. Watt’s rookie contract. The option will be for the 2021 season, and is fully guaranteed.
After three seasons with the Steelers, Watt has not only become one of the Steelers’ premier defensive play makers, but one of the best in the entire NFL. A finalist for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year award, Watt amassed 14.5 sacks, an NFL-leading eight forced fumbles with four fumble recoveries, along with two interceptions last season.
Watt is currently entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, so exercising the fifth year option will keep the elite defender in Pittsburgh for at least two more seasons. It is highly unlikely Watt will ever hit the free-agent market as the Steelers would be wise to sign him to a long-term deal either next season, before his fifth year option, or the following year while using the franchise tag.
For the 2020 season, Watt’s current number against the salary cap is just under $3 million. Using the fifth your option will come at a much higher cost, especially with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players drafted in 2017 will still fall under a provision in the old CBA as it is explained on NFL.com as follows:
For players selected in the top 10 picks of the 2016 or ‘17 drafts, the fifth-year option will pay a base salary equal to the transition tag for the position at which he played the most plays in his fourth season (the season prior to the option year). For those selected from picks 11 to 32, the option will be equal to an amount calculated by using the formula for the transition tag but with the third- through 25th-highest PYS in the player’s fourth season rather than the top 10 such salaries. The tender for the 2016 and ‘17 classes is guaranteed for injury only and becomes fully guaranteed for skill, cap and injury if the player is on the active roster at the start of the league year of his fifth (the option) season.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.