While making it to the NFL is tough enough in isolation, the Watt brothers have turned professional football into a family affair. JJ, of course, is the biggest star in the family and plies his trade as a defensive end with the Houston Texans; linebacker T.J. and fullback Derek both suit up for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As you might imagine, having three brothers all playing professional football has been quite a boon for the Watt clan. So how much have the brothers earned during their time in the NFL?
JJ Watt’s up-and-down NFL career
During JJ Watt’s freshman year at the University of Central Michigan, coaches asked him to try his hand on the offensive line. That move never materialized and, after a transfer to the University of Wisconsin, Watt found a home on the defensive side of the ball.
After two seasons with the Badgers, the up-and-coming defensive end entered into the 2011 NFL draft. The Houston Texans selected him with the 11th overall pick, and Watt immediately slotted into the starting lineup.
While Watt’s rookie season was solid, he truly burst onto the scene during the 2012 campaign. The defensive end terrorized the opposition, piling up 20.5 sacks and taking home AP Defensive Player of the Year honors; he would go on to claim the title two more times, winning the award in both 2014 and 2015.
In recent years, however, Watt has simply struggled to stay on the field. Since the start of the 2016 campaign, he’s only played 32 games due to a combination of back, leg, and arm injuries; while he clearly has game-breaking talent, the defensive end hasn’t been able to use that talent consistently in a number of years.
T.J. Watt and Derek Watt join the NFL ranks
While JJ Watt is the oldest of three brothers, he’s not the only one to play in the NFL. Linebacker T.J and fullback Derek have also joined the professional ranks.
Like his older brother, T.J headed to college as an offensive player; after suffering a knee injury, however, he found a home at linebacker. Watt proved to be a natural and, after two seasons at the position, became a first-round draft pick. With the Steelers, he’s turned into a legitimate pass rusher, posting 14.5 sacks in 2019 and earning two Pro Bowl appearances.
Unlike the other Watt brothers, Derek chose to stay on the offensive side of the ball as a fullback. After spending his college career at the University of Wisconsin, he landed with the San Diego Chargers. Watt spent the first four seasons of his career in California before signing with the Steelers this offseason.
How much have the Watt brothers earned playing football?
While professional football players don’t have the longest careers, they’re usually paid pretty well for their time in the NFL. Unsurprisingly, the Watt brothers are no exception.
As the longest-tenured brother, JJ Watt has earned significantly more money than his siblings. The defensive end has taken home more than $85 million in salary during his time with the Texans; if he plays out the remainder of his contract, his total earnings will reach $118 million by the end of the 2021 campaign.
T.J.’s earning power has been limited by his rookie contract, but he’s already on an upward trajectory. The Steelers linebacker has earned just over $7.5 million during his first professional seasons; his 2020 salary clocks in at $1.7 million, but his fifth-year option will provide him with a $10 million payday in 2021.
As a sixth-round pick and a fullback, Derek’s salary is understandably lower than his brothers. He earned a hair under $2.5 million during his time with the Chargers but earned a nice raise by signing a three-year, $9.75 million contract with the Steelers.
With all of that money in the bank, the Watt brothers are sitting pretty. Even if their Ultimate Tag gig doesn’t work out, they won’t be going hungry anytime soon.