|Trent Jordan Watt
|September 10, 2017
Trent Jordan Watt is an American football outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL. He played college football at Wisconsin and was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. His defense has earned him his positioning as one of the premier defensive ends in the game, with two straight seasons of being a Defensive Player of the Year finalist before finally bagging the prize in 2021. With a ripped physique, T.J. Watt is a formidable opponent to attackers and currently holds the NFL record for most sacks in a season (22.5), tied with Michael Strahan.
T.J. Watt’s Early Life and Background
T.J. Watt was born in Pewaukee, Wisconsin to Connie Watt and John Watt. He has two older brothers, J.J. Watt and Derek Watt, who also play in the NFL. He attended Pewaukee High School and enrolled at the University of Wisconsin. He suffered a knee injury in 2014 and could not play any games until the middle of 2015. Since he started playing for Wisconsin Badgers, he transitioned to a dependable linebacker and led the Big Ten Conference in sacks. He recorded 59 total tackles and 11.5 sacks in 2016. Watt was named in the First-Team All-Big-Ten. Watt did not finish his senior season at college to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. Watt majored in retailing and consumer behavior.
Who Drafted T.J. Watt?
Watt received an invitation to the NFL Combine as one of the top edge rushers in the draft and completed all the combine drills. Among linebackers, he finished second in the vertical jump and three-cone drill, while being tied for first in the broad jump in the short shuttle. Watt attended Wisconsin’s Pro Day and also completed drills for the NFL Combine. He was rated as one of the best linebackers’ picks for the 2017 NFL Draft. Watt was drafted in Round 1 of the 2017 Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was the overall pick number 30. Notable players from the 2017 NFL Draft class include quarterback Patrick Mahomes, quarterback Deshaun Watson, defensive end Myles Garrett, and running back Alvin Kamara.
T.J. Watt’s NFL Journey
Watt signed a four-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017 after being selected in the draft. He competed for the starting right outside linebacker position with James Harrison in the preseason. Watt was selected to be the starting right outside linebacker for the Steelers and his debut game in the regular season was against the Cleveland Browns. In the 21-18 win, Watt made 2 sacks, 7 combined tackles, and 1 interception. His rookie season ended with a playoff berth for the Steelers and 40 solo tackles, 7 pass deflections, 7 sacks, and 1 interception. He started 15 games in his rookie season.
Watts continued his strong performances for the Steelers in the 2018 season and was ranked #93 in the Top 100 NFL Players of 2019. By the end of the 2019 season, T.J. Watts had established himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the league. He tallied an AFC-high of 14.5 sacks and 8 forced fumbles. He was selected for the All-Pro first team as an edge rusher and the All-Pro second team as a linebacker.
The Steelers exercised the 5th year option on his contract in 2020. He finished the 2020 regular season leading the league in sacks (15), tackles for loss (23), and quarterback hits (41). The Steelers made it to the Playoffs but lost in the Divisional Round.
Watts became the highest-paid defensive player of the league in 2021 after signing a four-year deal with the Steelers, worth $112 million with an $80 million guarantee. He finished the regular season as NFL Defensive Player of the Year, leading the league in sacks (22.5), tackles for loss (21), and quarterback hits (39).
T.J. Watt's teams
Pittsburgh Steelers (2017-Present)
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Watt in the first round with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. On June 14, 2017, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Watt to a fully guaranteed, four-year, $9.25 million contract with a signing bonus of $4.87 million. T.J. became the first rookie to start at linebacker for the Steelers since Aaron Jones in 1988. He tied Bud Dupree (2014) and LaMarr Woodley (2007) for the franchise record for most sacks by a rookie with his fourth. Watt finished his rookie season with 54 combined tackles (40 solos), seven pass deflections, seven sacks, one forced fumble, and an interception in 15 games and 15 starts. In his first playoff game, he recorded two combined tackles and deflected a pass during the AFC Divisional Round. Watt started in the season-opener at the Cleveland Browns and recorded a season-high ten combined tackles (seven solos), three sacks, and blocked a potential game-winning field goal during overtime in a 21–21 tie. He earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. On October 7, 2018, Watt recorded eight combined tackles, tied his season-high of three sacks, and forced a fumble, a performance that earned him his second AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for the year. He started in all 16 games in 2018 and recorded 68 combined tackles (50 solos), 13 sacks, six forced fumbles, and three pass deflections. For his performance in November of the 2019 season, he earned an AFC Defensive Player of the Month award. By the end of his third season, Watt had established himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, tallying an AFC-high 14.5 sacks and a league-high eight forced fumbles, earning a Pro Bowl selection. He was voted Team MVP by his teammates, being the first defensive player to win the award since Troy Polamalu in 2010. He was voted All-Pro as an edge rusher (1st-team) as well as a linebacker(2nd-team). He was nominated for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, finishing third in the voting.
On March 17, 2020, the Steelers signed Watt's older brother Derek, putting the two brothers on the same team. On April 28, 2020, the Steelers exercised the fifth-year option on Watt's contract. In Week 2, Watt recorded his first 2.5 sacks of the season and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, and then followed it up with an AFC Defensive Player of the Month award for September, and then also in November. On December 31, 2020, for the second straight season, Watt was voted Team MVP by his teammates. Despite leading the NFL in sacks (15), tackles for loss (23), and quarterback hits (41), he finished second in voting for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. He also earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors. On September 9, 2021, Watt and the Steelers agreed to a four-year extension worth over $112 million with $80 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. He continued his strong play into the beginning of the season, with a week 6 performance that saw him record seven total tackles, three tackles for loss, three passes defended, and two sacks, one of which was a strip sack in overtime that led to the game-winning field goal. The performance earned him another AFC Defensive Player of the Week award. In Week 15, Watt accumulated another 1.5 sacks, bringing his season total to 17.5, a new franchise record, surpassing the previous best by James Harrison. On January 6, 2022, the Steelers named Watt their Team MVP. He became the only player in team history to win the award in three-straight seasons. In Week 18, Watt tied Michael Strahan's 20-year-old NFL single-season sack record at 22.5. Despite missing two games and parts of three others, Watt ended the regular season leading the league in sacks (22.5), tackles for loss (21), and quarterback hits (39) for the second year in a row, finally earning the coveted NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. He of course also earned Pro Bowl and First-team All-Pro honors for his continued excellence.
T.J. Watt Awards and Honours
|NFL Defensive Player of the Year
|All-Pro First Team
|All-Pro Second Team
|Deacon Jones Award
|NFL Forced Fumble Co-Leader
|PWFA All-Rookie Team
|First-Team All-Big-Ten (college)
T.J. Watt NFL Records
Tied for most sacks (22.5) in an NFL season (with Michael Strahan)
Tied for most seasons leading the league in sacks (2)
Tied for most consecutive seasons leading the league in sacks (2 with Mark Gastineau and Reggie White)
T.J. Watt's Net Worth
Watt’s net worth is estimated to be around $10 million. His net worth will increase drastically by the end of his current Steelers contract which has made him the highest-paid NFL defensive player. He is slated to receive a guaranteed $80 million from the deal. He also receives money for endorsement deals with Reebok and Six Start Pro-Nutrition.
T.J. Watt Contract
T.J. Watt’s current contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers is a four-year contract extension that keeps him with the franchise till 2024 with the option of extending it till 2025. The entire contract is worth $112,011,000. To get a more comprehensive breakdown of Watt’s contract, click here.
T.J. Watt family
The Watt family is tied with the NFL as his two elder brothers both play in the NFL. Derek Watt is a fullback and his teammate at the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2020. His other brother J.J. Watt plays as a defensive end for the Houston Texans.
T.J. Watt is engaged to be married to American professional soccer star Dani Rhodes. She plays as a forward for the club Úrvalsdeild kvenna club Þróttur Reykjavík. She played college soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To learn more about Rhodes, you can check out this article.