Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt, shown Oct. 28, 2018, finished second to Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald in NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting last season. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to make star outside linebacker T.J. Watt the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL after the two sides reached an agreement on a multiyear contract extension Thursday.
League sources told ESPN, NFL Media and USA Today Sports that Watt agreed to a four-year, $112 million extension with the Steelers. According to the outlets, the pact includes $80 million in fully guaranteed money.
ESPN reported that Watt overruled his agents who believed they could receive more money in the negotiations, marching into Steelers president Art Rooney's office and informing him they had a deal. Watt then excused himself and left for a workout.
"This is a guy who was more than deserving of this contract," Steelers captain Cam Heyward said Thursday. "It's great to know his future is here in Pittsburgh."
Watt's average annual salary of $28 million per season makes him the league's highest-paid defensive player, eclipsing Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa ($27 million) and Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack ($23.5 million).
The Steelers selected Watt in the first round of the 2017 draft out of Wisconsin. The edge rusher notched seven sacks over 15 games in his rookie season, but he has since transformed into one of the league's most productive pass rushers.
Watt has racked up double-digit sacks in each season since 2018, subsequently recording 13, 14.5 and 15 sacks. He finished second to Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald in Defensive Player of the Year voting after his 15-sack campaign last season.
In 62 career games with the Steelers, the 26-year-old Watt has notched 230 total tackles, 49.5 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, four interceptions and 26 passes defensed.