T.J. Watt’s Contract Impasse Could Give Bills Week 1 Gift
The contract impasse between the Bills and T.J. Watt appears to be set to last longer than the rest of the NFL’s starting QBs, according to sources. Jets QB Sam Darnold signed a record-breaking deal last week worth $27 million per year. He’s the highest-paid player in the NFL. The Bills have offered a four-year, $82 million contract to Watt, according to a source. It’s a deal that would make him the highest-paid player in the NFL.
The AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars brought an early end to the 2017 season. However, for Bills fans, that was just a small bump in the road. After all, we’re still waiting for the Bud Light Party Bus to show up. Now, in all fairness, this “gift” wasn’t entirely unexpected: the Bills and quarterback Tyrod Taylor had been negotiating a contract extension for some time, but they were still mired in salary cap trouble. According to reports, the Bills offered Taylor $35 million per season on a five-year deal, but he was seeking $50-60 million on a seven-year extension—which was about $3 million per year more
The contract standoff between the Bills and T.J. Watt has been a classic case of a team not willing to pay what it would take to get the player they want. The Bills have been unable to get an agreement with Watt, who has been a key player for the team since being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft. The Bills have been unwilling to match an offer from the Steelers, who have a need for a pass rusher, and a chance to jump ahead of the Jets and Patriots.
Getty In a December 2020 game, T.J. Watt puts pressure on Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
The clock is ticking for T.J. Watt to finish his new deal by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ self-imposed deadline, and the standoff may give the Buffalo Bills a major edge in Week 1.
The clubs will play their first game in less than a week, but the Steelers and Watt have yet to reach an agreement on a new contract that will enable Watt to rejoin his teammates and prepare for the season. Watt’s absence from the season opener is now in jeopardy due to the delayed talks, which would be a good development for a Bills offense that he has wreaked havoc on in the past.
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Watt’s Situation Is Uncertain
Watt and the Steelers seem to have struck a brick wall, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk. The Steelers don’t guarantee compensation beyond the first year of a veteran contract, according to Florio. The All-Pro edge rusher is allegedly seeking a guarantee that extends beyond this season. Watt is attempting to become the highest-paid player in the NFL, but time is running out to reach an agreement before the club shuts down the process.
As T.J. says, As the deadline for Watt’s deal approaches, a few of Pittsburgh’s unofficial veteran contract regulations are making things a bit more intriguing. https://t.co/H4AXYAx9Yn
September 5, 2021 — ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk)
The Steelers have an internal rule not to allow contract talks to go on into the season, as Florio pointed out. Watt has attended training camp and gone through solo exercises, but he has not worked with his teammates and has not participated in any of the team’s preseason games.
Watt has been missing his teammates, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, but the stalemate may keep him away for much longer — and perhaps out of the game against the Bills in Week 1.
“And so, if something isn’t done in the next, say, 48-72 hours, he’ll certainly be in danger of missing Week 1 because the Steelers have a long-standing policy of players having to practice in order to play,” Fowler told Bleacher Report on Sunday. “He’s participated in individual exercises and other activities, but they need more.”
Taking Care of Bills and Getting Ahead
With Watt off the field on Sunday, the Bills may enjoy a significant edge. He’s been one of the most productive pass rushers in the NFL, averaging more than 14 sacks and 16 forced fumbles over the past three seasons.
Watt has had a lot of success against the Bills. In a primetime clash in 2019, he had a half sack, two tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble in a game. Watt had two hits and a pass defended on Bills quarterback Josh Allen last year, but it was one of just four games he played all season in which he was kept without a sack.
There may yet be time to shift the obstacles and reach an agreement. The Steelers still think Watt can be signed in time, according to Fowler, but the ESPN source warned it won’t be easy.
“They are hopeful that something will be done here soon,” he said, “but it has been a difficult transaction due to the money involved.”
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