49ers

How Watt's massive contract extension impacts Bosa, 49ers

49ers
T.J. Watt

Outside of T.J. Watt's immediate family and perhaps Ben Roethlisberger, no one should have been happier to see the Pittsburgh Steelers back up the Brinks truck for the star pass rusher than Nick Bosa.

Watt and the Steelers agreed to a four-year extension worth more than $112 million, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday. The deal reportedly comes with $80 million guaranteed and will make him the highest-paid defensive player in football at $28.003 million annually.

There's no doubt Bosa is walking around with dollar signs in his eyes right now.

The 49ers star defensive end had a historically great rookie season in 2019 when he recorded 10 sacks, 18 QB hits and 52 QB pressures in the regular season, per Pro Football Focus. Those 80 total pressures are the most by any rookie in NFL history, and 14 more than the next closest player. Bosa also was the second-highest graded rookie edge defender since 2012, finishing just 0.2 behind Khalil Mack, per PFF. Bosa's dominance continued in the 49ers' run to Super Bowl LIV in which he recorded four sacks in three games.

Bosa's 2020 season ended in Week 2 when he tore his ACL against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, but he is fully healed and will be on the field for the 49ers when they open the season Sunday in Detroit against the Lions.

If Bosa stays healthy and puts together another dominant, double-digit sack season in 2021, then he will be in line for a record-breaking deal that likely will eclipse Watt's as soon as next summer.

 

Watt has posted three straight elite seasons in which he notched 13, 14.5 and 15 sacks, respectively, and has been arguably the best defensive player not named Aaron Donald over that span.

Make no mistake, Watt's payday was well earned, and Bosa's will be too as long as he can put another elite season in the books.

With two seasons of elite pass-rush production under his belt, Bosa can reasonably command a deal that will pay him $30 million or more per season, especially if he puts together a season in which he is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.

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There is a very good chance that Bosa will be the first non-quarterback to command a deal worth $30 million a season, and with the NFL salary cap expected to explode in 2023, the 49ers likely will look to lock Bosa up long term next summer, paying the star defensive end handsomely for what they expect will be a very productive prime.

This is the way of the NFL. One player cashes in and resets the market, so the next player at his position can go and do the same. Bosa doesn't have to have as many great seasons under his belt as Watt to command a deal that eclipses the Steelers' star.

As long as Bosa gets back to the elite level he showed in 2019, John Lynch and the 49ers will back the Brinks truck up to the pass-rushing star's house very soon.

That will be money well spent for the 49ers.

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