Former Badger T.J. Watt officially signs deal to become highest-paid defensive player in NFL

PITTSBURGH — T.J. Watt has gone from being known as “J.J. Watt’s little brother” at Wisconsin to being the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

Watt officially signed his four-year, $112 million contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers Friday. The average annual value of $28 million per year sets a new record for defensive players in the NFL, surpassing the $27 million per year Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers signed last year.

Watt starred at the University of Wisconsin before being picked 30th overall in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. The Green Bay Packers had a chance to draft Watt, but instead traded back and selected cornerback Kevin King.

Watt made an immediate impact for the Steelers defense, racking up 7 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and an interception in 15 games as a rookie. He followed that up with 13 sacks in 2018 and 14.5 sacks in 2019 before leading the entire NFL with 15 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss last season.