The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their first regular season action Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET when they travel to Orchard Park to play the Buffalo Bills, and the biggest story coming out of Pittsburgh isn’t who is healthy, and who isn’t, it is the status of superstar defender T.J. Watt.
In case you’ve been living under a rock since the Steelers reported to Training Camp, Watt has been at camp, been practicing and present at every meeting. The only aspect of camp he hasn’t participated in have been team drills or preseason games.
The reason behind Watt skipping these parts of camp have been about his current contract. Watt is currently in the 5th year option of his rookie contract, and the player who has finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting the past two years wants a long term contract.
Fans know the Steelers don’t negotiate new contracts once the regular season starts, and that means the clock is ticking. Mike Tomlin spoke about Watt’s contract negotiations during his Tuesday press conference, and he said he is both optimistic to get a contract done before the start of the regular season, but also that he expects Watt to return to practice Wednesday.
Tomlin on TJ Watt: "It's my understanding, I remain optimistic something will get done from a deal perspective. I'm expecting him to work tomorrow. I'm proceeding with the assumption he's going to work tomorrow."— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 7, 2021
The next common question regarding the situation between the Steelers and Watt is whether Watt would be able to play, and at a high level, without having practiced fully or played in any preseason game. Tomlin said he expects Watt to play, and play well, based on the fact he isn’t a “normal” player.
Mike Tomlin asked about how TJ Watt can be ready for Sunday w/out hitting in pads since last January. Says, “We’ll play it by ear… one thing I’m not going to do is assume he’s regular. Or normal.” But then, he says TJ is exceptional and wouldn’t underestimate him.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 7, 2021
With that said, this is all talk at this point. Watt still needs to return to practice, and the Steelers still need to get a contract done. Until then, all fans can go off of is talk.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Bills this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET.
For more information on Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out the podcast below:
If you want to watch Mike Tomlin’s press conference, you can do so below: