Baltimore Sun

Big Ben: Watt ‘needs to get paid’

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T.J. Watt’s contract negotiatio­ns with the Steelers have dragged on to the point of distractio­n as the season opener against the Bills looms on Sunday. Ben Roethlisbe­rger has some advice on how the organizati­on can make it all go away: pay the All-Pro outside linebacker “whatever the heck he wants.” While Watt practiced in pads with his teammates Wednesday for the first time since the end of last season, Roethlisbe­rger urged the Steelers to do whatever it takes to lock Watt up long term before an unofficial deadline passes this weekend. “One of the reasons I took less money was for guys like him to get paid,” said Roethlisbe­rger, who renegotiat­ed his contract in March to lessen his salary cap hit for 2021. “And he needs to get paid. He deserves every penny that he wants.” Watt, a three-time Pro Bowler, is in the final season of the deal he signed after the Steelers took him in the first round of the 2017 draft. He’s one of the most dominant edge rushers in the league and his 49 sacks through four seasons is the sixth-highest total during the first four years of a career. The Steelers typically like to extend franchise cornerston­es before they begin the final year of their deals. The team, however, also doesn’t negotiate once the season begins.

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