Pittsburgh Steelers fullback, Derek Watt is entering his third season in the black and gold. After the team selected FB/TE Connor Heyward in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, many speculated it could spell the end for Watt.
Watt’s in the final year of his three-year, $9.75 million deal that he signed in 2020. In his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, he’s been on the field for just 138 offensive snaps, just 7% total. In essence, those speculations seemed to be fair, but it now seems clear that his roster spot is safe. In recent days, Steelers beat reporters Brooke Pryor and Mark Kaboly have confirmed Watt’s increasing probabilities of making the roster. After acknowledging Connor Heyward as Pittsburgh’s off-season standout thus far, Pryor had this to say on Watt:
“Because he has been working mostly with tight ends and receivers, Heyward probably won’t be competing for the fullback roster spot with Derek Watt, making it likely both find roles on the 2022 team.”
Perhaps this has been the team’s plan all along, and we were just speculating as fans. Regardless, it’s good news for Derek Watt and all the fullback fans out there. Special teams is something that head coach Mike Tomlin really values, as it’s often a deciding factor on guys who are on the bubble for making the roster. Watt brings a lot in that department, as he’s been one of the team’s better special teams guys since arriving to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh could even aim to be more creative in incorporating him into the offense more in 2022. Heavier packages would likely open up better running holes for Najee Harris, something the offensive line struggled to do in 2021. While the team undergoes changes at quarterback, establishing the run game remains the top priority. Kaboly essentially echoed Pryor’s comments from Monday by saying this about Watt in his article on Tuesday:
“Many believe Watt could be a cap casualty in September considering his salary and the fact that the Steelers drafted Connor Heyward. Well, Heyward has only taken snaps at tight end, and you can never underestimate the staying power of a veteran special teams contributor with the Steelers. I wouldn’t anticipate much more in the way of offensive snaps than in his first two years, but Watt isn’t going anywhere.”
For now, Watt seems to be a safe bet to make the roster. That’s just as training camp is about to start, as things can change before the official roster cuts come in August and early-September. Contrary to his limited usage on offense, Watt has seen 535 snaps on special teams over his two seasons in Pittsburgh. That’s just under 70% of the possible snaps, showing his importance to the team in that aspect of the game.
Will the Steelers incorporate both guys into their offense?
Do you guys think Pittsburgh should keep both Watt and Heyward on the team? Will Watt become a leader with how young this year’s offense is? Yinz, let us know your thoughts and opinions on this in the comment section below!
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