PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was not shy when talking about his support for T.J. Watt's new contract.
The Steelers and Watt are entering a pivotal week of negotiations as Pittsburgh's policy remains that the two sides will stop talking about a contract extension once the regular season starts. So far, reports claim the team is not budging from their traditional first-year guarantee, which will give Watt significantly less guaranteed money than others at his position.
"T.J. [Watt] should get whatever the heck he wants," Roethlisberger said. "He's arguably the best football player in the game right now, not just on defense but in general. ... One of the reasons I took less money was for guys like him to be paid. He needs to get paid. He deserves every penny that he wants and asks for. T.J. Watt is that guy that should get whatever he wants."
Roethlisberger says his teammates feel the same.
"The feeling in the room is mutual in the sense that we all know how great he is know what he deserves," the quarterback said. "Everyone on this level, at least.
"He's trying to sign his first big deal and he's Defensive Player of the Year. Everyone in this locker room understands and knows that. He should understand and know that. The problem is, when you negotiate new contracts, it's not always two-sided. When the higher-ups are in charge, there's only so much you can do."
Watt has reported to practice throughout the summer but has not participated in team drills. Instead, he's worked on the sideline, conditioning with trainers.
Roethlisberger, who was firm in his statements that Watt should receive a new contract extension before Week 1, made it known every Steelers player recognizes the work Watt has put in this offseason.
"We all feel bad for T.J. Everyone knows how bad he wants to be out there," Roethlisberger said. "The guy was here every single day when he probably didn't need to be; working, busting his butt. He should get taken care of."
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