Your Defensive Player of the Year, ladies and gentlemen — Pittsburgh Steelers LB TJ Watt. The Steelers linebacker took home 40 votes, finishing ahead of Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (five votes) and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (three votes).
After receiving a four-year, $112 million extension ahead of the 2021 NFL season, he immediately proved his worth once again with 22.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 21 tackles for loss.
Defensive Player of the Year: Steelers LB TJ Watt
Though the Steelers had a disappointing end to the season, Watt tied the single-season sack record in Week 18 on the road against their divisional rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. The previous record of 22.5 sacks was set by DE Michael Strahan with the Giants in the 2001 season.
Though Watt tied the record in Week 18, he missed two games in the 2021 season, so he still managed to do so in fewer games (15) than Strahan did in 2001 (16). Watt has increased his sack total each year he’s been in the NFL, starting off at 7.0 sacks in his 2017 rookie season.