With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger supposedly fully-recovered from elbow surgery that forced him to miss 14 games last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are an easy pick to improve upon their 8-8 finish in 2019. To think that they won that many games with Mason Rudolph and Devlin "Duck" Hodges rotating under center is mind-boggling, and it really speaks volumes to Mike Tomlin's standing as one of the best coaches in the NFL.
However, Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert will be faced with a multitude of roster conundrums to sort out in the near future as a number of young stars are currently outperforming their rookie contracts.
With this in mind, let's take a closer took at three players the Steelers should look to extend right now.
3. JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster's inclusion on this list is highly contingent on the Steelers identifying a long-term successor to Roethlisberger, who could retire after this season. The 23-year-old wide receiver likely left fans in Pittsburgh with a sour taste in their mouths after a subpar showing last year, but let's not forget that he's a season removed from posting 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. Smith-Schuster's rookie deal will expire after 2020, and the Steelers would be foolish to let him test the open market, assuming that they don't plan to move forward with Rudolph or Hodges at quarterback. If they shock the world and do just that, then Pittsburgh could just as easily extend one of Bud Dupree, Joe Haden or David DeCastro.
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick
Minkah Fitzpatrick ensured that he would receive a monster contract last season when he posted 57 tackles, five interceptions, nine passes defended and two defensive touchdowns in 14 games for Pittsburgh. The All-Pro safety won't stand for another campaign of being grossly underpaid -- he's set to earn $1.9 million in 2020 -- so the Steelers might as well appease him by inking him to an extension. Sure, Fitzpatrick is under contract through 2021, but that shouldn't matter. As evidenced by his showing last year, he'd be worth the price of admission.
1. TJ Watt
Anytime a player finishes No. 4 in Defensive Player of the Year voting, he can expect to earn a sizable contract extension in the near future. That's exactly the case with Steelers defensive end TJ Watt, who's been incredibly productive over the last two seasons. In that span, the Pro Bowler has compiled 123 tackles, 27.5 sacks, 57 QB hits, 14 forced fumbles and 11 pass deflections. Those numbers are insane and prove that Watt deserves an early extension.