Steelers' Tomlin sees similarities in Bosa, Watt contract situations

Steelers' Tomlin sees similarities in Bosa, Watt contract situations originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Nick Bosa soon should replace T.J. Watt as the NFL’s highest-paid edge rusher.

And Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin fully expects the 49ers' star defensive end to be on the field Sunday when the two teams open the 2023 regular season.

Tomlin has been on the other side, and he remembers the lift Watt gave the Steelers in Week 1 of the 2021 season — just three days after he signed the contract extension that pays him $28 million per season.

"We are preparing for Bosa," Tomlin told the Pittsburgh media during a Tuesday press conference. "It is prudent for us to assume that he's going to be there and prepare in that vein as opposed to be surprised."

There is a major difference with the situations surrounding Bosa and Watt.

Bosa did not report to Santa Clara with the rest of his 49ers teammates on July 25 while the sides were negotiating a multi-year contract extension. Two years ago, Watt was a “hold in.” He took part in individual drills but did not see any practice time in Steelers team drills until his contract was completed.

Watt signed his new deal on the Wednesday before Pittsburgh’s season opener at the Buffalo Bills.

"We got a deal done at the 11th hour," Tomlin said. "He showed up in the stadium, and he was T.J. Watt that day. That's what those guys do. They show up and they are who they are.

“So we expect him [Bosa] to be there as a prudent approach to take. And if he's going to be there, we know the type of player that he intends on being, and so that's something to be dealt with."

Watt showed no signs of rust in the 2021 season opener after his limited training camp. He played 69 of the Steelers' 85 defensive snaps (81 percent), and registered two sacks and five quarterback hits in Pittsburgh’s 23-16 upset victory.

Watt went on to appear in 15 games in 2021 and tied Michael Strahan for the NFL single-season record of 22.5 sacks. Watt was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Bosa is coming off a season in which he recorded 18.5 sacks and was named 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

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