Pittsburgh Steelers superstar T.J. Watt has been a hold out at practice amidst ongoing contract disputes with the organization. But, according to comments from head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday, the two-time All-Pro linebacker is expected to finally be a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
That being said, Watt and the Steelers have yet to reach a longterm contract agreement.
Tomlin is still optimistic that they can get things sorted out before the start of the season, though.
“I remain optimistic that something is going to get done from a deal perspective,” Tomlin said per Sports Illustrated. “That aside, you know, I’m expecting him to work tomorrow. I’m proceeding with the assumption that he’s going to work tomorrow. You know, that’s kind of the approach that I’m taking.”
Despite this confidence from Tomlin, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport isn’t so sure about Watt’s status for tomorrow’s practice and the rest of the season.
“From what I know, it certainly seems up in the air whether or not T.J. Watt is going to be practicing like normal tomorrow and gearing up for the game,” Rapoport said. “They have been in intense, ongoing negotiations really through the better part of the summer.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 8, 2021
Watt is entering the final season of his rookie contract after logging two straight All-Pro selections. So far throughout the preseason, the fifth-year linebacker has attended every practice, but only participated in the individual portions.
Rapoport referenced the Steelers’ usual way of doing business: getting deals done before Week 1 of the regular season.
With that “hard deadline” quickly approaching, Rapoport believes the Steelers have reached a “critical point” with their superstar defender.
Pittsburgh will kickoff their 2021 season with a matchup against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.