PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end and team captain Cameron Heyward ended his media availability with a simple message; "Pay T.J."
What's become a trend within the Steelers' locker room, Heyward is the latest member of the team to publicly say Watt should receive a contract extension.
The two sides - Watt and the Steelers - have been negotiating throughout the summer, but as game day approaches, no deal has been made.
"We all feel like T.J. [Watt] should be paid," Heyward said. "He's put in the time and the work. He's a productive player. His injury history, he's been out here, he doesn't miss much games. He's a game-changer."
Heyward said he and Watt have spoken about, but his message to the outside linebacker is clear.
"My conversations with him is that he should be paid," Heyward said. "It's not anything to gloss over. I think this guy has been a contributor for us for a long time. Where he got drafted, we were very lucky. We all knew he was going to be a player here and he's answered the call and done more."
As for the negotiations taking up space in the minds of players, Heyward isn't worried. Watt returned to practice with the team on Wednesday and is expected to play in Week 1 with or without a contract.
"It's not a distraction," Heyward said. "This is what every person has to go through in their job, it just gets more publicized here. T.J. has been a professional. He's come out to practice. He's locked in during meetings."
Watt was not voted as team captain a year after being selected by his teammates. Heyward says it surprised him but doesn't mean much.
"It's just a title," Heyward said. "It doesn't change anything on how we do business."
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