Derek Watt says it would be 'incredible' to have brothers T.J. and J.J. Watt with him on one team
The Steelers' new fullback is hoping that pipe dream may one day come true
Derek Watt played high school and college football with his younger brother, Steelers All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt. On Wednesday, the two , with Watt inking a three-year, $9.75 million contract with the Steelers.
While two-thirds of the Watt brothers are now together in Pittsburgh, Derek allowed himself to think about the possibility of his older brother, Texans pass rusher J.J. Watt, joining him and T.J. on the same NFL team. That would be a first for the Watt family, as J.J. -- who is three and a half years older than Derek and five and a half years older than T.J. -- has never played on the same team with his bothers. The three are currently training together in J.J.'s home in Wisconsin.
"It would be something incredibly special for my family if we could all three, somehow, some way get together on the field in the same uniform," Derek Watt said this week, via ESPN's Brooke Pryor.
Could the eldest Watt eventually find himself on the Steelers? Maybe, but probably not for at least another two years, as the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has two years remaining on his $100 million contract extension that he signed back in 2014. The Steelers are expected to extend T.J.'s contract at some point this offseason, as he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The team's first round pick in 2017, T.J. led the Steelers with 14.5 sacks while also leading the league with eight forced fumbles.
For now, the Watt family will have to settle for having two of the Watt brothers on the same team, a possibility Derek Watt wasn't allowing himself to get too optimistic about prior to the start of free agency.
"The day that I ended up getting the offer and choosing the Steelers, they revealed to me that they were downplaying it a little bit because they knew how excited I would be for that opportunity to play with T.J. and to play for such a great organization," Derek said. "They revealed that, 'Hey buddy, all along, they were one of the teams all along that wanted you bad. They really respect your game.' And they think it's a great fit for me there."
Like his brothers, Derek Watt attended the University of Wisconsin, averaging 5.0 yards per carry during his senior season. He also spent three seasons in Madison blocking for Melvin Gordon, who later became his teammate with the Chargers.
A sixth round pick in the 2016 draft, Watt helped Gordon become one of the NFL's best running backs during their four seasons together with the Chargers. After rushing for just 641 yards as a rookie (the season before Watt joined the Chargers), Gordon averaged nearly 1,000 rushing yards per season from 2016-17. Gordon also saw his yards per carry average climb from 3.5 to 4.1 yards with Watt as his teammate.
Watt is also regarded as a formidable blocker in pass protection, as former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was routinely one of the league's least sacked quarterbacks during Watt's time with the franchise. Watt will now be tasked with helping protect another member of the 2004 draft class in Ben Roethlisberger, who is looking to rebound in 2020 after missing 14 games last season with an elbow injury.
The addition of Watt is likely a response by the front office to Steelers president Art Rooney II's recent statements about his desire to see an improved Pittsburgh rushing attack. The Steelers have finished 31st and 29th in the NFL in rushing over the past two years. Watt is also expected to make a significant contribution on special teams.
"I know I'm not the big, sexy signing that J.J. would probably be," Derek said, "but I plan to do everything I possibly can to not let those fans down and just Steeler Nation as a whole, and do everything I can to help us win some games and bring another championship back to Pittsburgh."
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