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Steelers’ stubbornness on guarantee structure could blow up T.J. Watt talks

The Steelers will need to hammer out a handsome extension if they want key defensive piece T.J. Watt on the field for their daunting Week 1 season opener against the Bills.

We recently pointed out that Pittsburgh has two informal contract rules that could complicate the negotiations with linebacker T.J. Watt. Apparently, they could crater them.

Via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Media, the Steelers’ refusal to offer full guaranteed beyond the first year of a veteran contract is “threatening to sink” the Watt negotiations.

Aditi adds that she was optimistic about the chances of a deal getting done last week, but that she’s now less optimistic.

The clock is ticking. Loudly. Watt’s hold-in, which has been permitted by the team, threatens to wipe out his availability for Week One. And that’s when another Pittsburgh informal rule becomes highly relevant -- the team doesn’t do new contracts after the season starts.

So, at some point, the Steelers need to tell Watt that, if a deal can’t be done, it’s time to get to work. That’s when the concept of team-endorsed hold-ins collapses on itself. When the player who has shown up but who has not yet suited up is left with no choice but to play, what will he do?

We possibly will be finding out. Soon.