Family ties: FB Derek Watt joins brother TJ with Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers turned the opening day of free agency into a family reunion for the Watt family.

The team agreed to terms fullback Derek Watt on a three-year contract worth $9.75 million, luring him from the Los Angeles Chargers to Pittsburgh to join All-Pro younger brother T.J. Watt, who recorded 14 1/2 sacks from his spot at outside linebacker in 2019.

“‘Come to Pittsburgh’. IT WORKED!!! Welcome to #SteelerNation,” T.J. Watt posted on Instagram along with a picture of the two brothers talking on the field while Watt was still with the Chargers.

Derek Watt, 27, spent four seasons with the Chargers, primarily as a special teams ace. He has 29 career touches for 201 yards and a touchdown as well as 35 tackles.

“An iconic franchise, a legendary city AND the chance to play on the same team as my brother,” Derek Watt tweeted. “Could not possibly be more excited for what’s ahead! Pittsburgh, I promise to give you everything I have to make you proud.”

Watt’s signing paved the way for the Steelers to release veteran fullback Roosevelt Nix. Nix was a Pro Bowler in 2017 while opening holes for Le’Veon Bell but battled injuries last season, appearing in just three games. Watt’s arrival will also blunt the loss of inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich, a special teams captain who signed with Buffalo.

The Steelers also tendered contract offers to restricted free agents Matt Feiler and Mike Hilton. Feiler has started 26 games over the last two seasons and spent 2019 at right tackle for Pittsburgh in 2019. He could switch to left guard in 2020 following Ramon Foster’s retirement and B.J. Finney’s move to Seattle in free agency.

The team could possibly fill the right tackle position on the free agent market or give Chuks Okorafor or Zach Banner a look. Banner signed a one-year contract for 2020. He played primarily as a third offensive tackle in jumbo sets in 2019.

Hilton has become one of the NFL’s better slot cornerbacks since breaking into the rotation in 2017. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Hilton is also a disruptive pass rusher. Hilton has four interceptions and 6 1/2 sacks in 47 career games, 14 as a starter.

The Steelers also signed long snapper Kameron Canaday to a two-year deal. Canaday was a restricted free agent.


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