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Steelers Willing to (Somewhat) Adjust As They Race Clock on T.J. Watt Extension

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert discusses T.J. Watt's contract negotiations.

PITTSBURGH -- The clock is ticking on the Pittsburgh Steelers' efforts to lock edge rusher, T.J. Watt, up for years to come. 

The 2020 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up is currently negotiating his second NFL contract with the Steelers. Despite the team's silence when it comes to the progress of those negotiations, there is some inside available to make public. 

A select group of media spoke with general manager Kevin Colbert prior to Steelers' second week of training camp at Heinz Field. In the press conference, Colbert addressed the changes in negotiations this offseason, and why Pittsburgh wants Watt around long-term. 

"T.J. Watt is proven to be a very good defensive player," Colbert said. "There's nothing you can add to what he's done on the field, other than win a championship .... We've had a lot of great players come through here. But a Super Bowl champion is the one thing we want them all to experience at some point."

Now, onto negotiations. For starters, Watt is expected to receive somewhere near a record-breaking contract. Prior to this offseason (presumably), the Steelers handed Cameron Heyward the largest defensive contract in team history of four years, $65 million. 

Judging from contracts received from other edge rushers such as Myles Garrett, Watt's contract should be well over $100 million. 

And the Steelers are willing to adapt to that.

"It's a different environment completely," Colbert said on the team's cap situation surrounding negotiations. "We knew we were going to be up against the cap last year. When the pandemic hit and the cap went down, we were severely up against the cap and we had to make some obviously tough decisions. 

"So, moving forward, we think we know where the cap will go. We're hopeful that it does. And can we make certain players fit within that group? We'll always do a deal based on what it does to us in 2021, and we try to project what it will do to us in three years down the road."

In terms of signing bonuses and guaranteed money, Garrett received $100 million of his $125 million contract guaranteed. The Steelers didn't mention a number, but Colbert did say,

"We will always try to stay as current as possible while staying within our own beliefs. Our own beliefs will always override what's going on within the league."

Those beliefs mean the Steelers will still end negotiations once the season begins.

"I never ever see that changing because our only focus should be on winning the Super Bowl," Colbert said.

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Pittsburgh's first regular season game is Sept. 12. 

And the clock continues to runs. 

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.

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