Steelers exercise two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Watt’s fifth-year option


The Pittsburgh Steelers exercised TJ Watt’s fifth-year option on Tuesday, an expected move after the outside linebacker emerged as one of the best defensive players in the NFL.

Following a breakthrough 2018 season in which he racked up 13 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and 21 quarterback hits to earn his first of two straight trips to the Pro Bowl, the 25-year-old Watt was even better last season.

The 30th overall pick of the 2017 draft, Watt ranked in the top five in the NFL across a host of categories in the 2019 campaign, including sacks, where he tied for fourth with 14.5, and forced fumbles, tying for first with eight. He tied for second in fumble recoveries with four, and was third for quarterback hits with 36.

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Now he is staying with the team through the 2021 season, the Steelers announced.

Watt was the first player to rank in the top five in those four categories since his brother, Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt in 2014 – the year he earned his second AP Defensive Player of the Year Award.

TJ Watt, who was named a first-team All Pro in 2019, was a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award last season.

"It's just working hard and getting more and more experience," Watt said in a statement.

"This was my second year playing the left side. I am just growing and learning how I can approach the game better, find out what works better for me as far as film study, practice and preparation.

"Hopefully I can keep taking those jumps as I progress in my career."

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