Watt has strong family connections to the Steelers’ organization. Derek and T.J., Watt’s brothers, both play in Pittsburgh.
Given those connections, it was previously believed the Steelers were atop Watt’s free agency list. But in the end, the Cardinals won the sweepstakes in stunning fashion.
According to NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers were definitely “in the mix” for Watt. But the organization’s cap space dilemma is complicated, which allowed the Cardinals to take the lead and eventually land the former Texans defensive end on Monday.
Steelers were definitely in the mix throughout with J.J. Watt, who would have welcomed playing with brothers Derek and T.J, per source. But Cardinals took clear advantage in final days, and Pittsburgh has much to figure out with cap deficit, Big Ben's contract and more
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 2, 2021
The Steelers were never in dire need of a player like J.J. Watt. Obviously he’s a tremendous player capable of making a high impact, but Pittsburgh’s strength is its defense. Adding Watt was never a major priority.
Instead, the Steelers need to solve their quarterback problem. Ben Roethlisberger will reportedly return for at least one more year. First, he’ll have to rework his contract to better represent his current ability.
Even with Big Ben returning, the Steelers have to address their future at the quarterback position. Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph sit behind Roethlisberger on the quarterback depth chart, but neither has proved they’re capable of being Pittsburgh’s next franchise quarterback. If the organization likes a certain quarterback in this year’s draft, it might be worth trading up to obtain a higher pick.
At the very least, the Steelers defense should remain elite for a long time, even after missing out on the Watt sweepstakes.