In a move certain to divide the fanbase, the Pittsburgh Steelers have traded their 2020 first-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The Steelers have been a team in transformation over the last 36 hours. Ben Roethlisberger was lost to injury Sunday against the Seahawks, and the team announced that his injury was season-ending midday on Monday.
Roethlisberger issued a statement Monday evening saying he intended to return to football after his recovery, but the reality is that the 2019 season is now in Mason Rudolph’s hands.
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The Steelers have not exactly inspired in the first two weeks of the season. A flaccid offense doomed them to a 30-point humiliation in New England, and soft defense led to a loss to Seattle in the home opener.
That second area of malaise was attended to Monday evening when Pittsburgh traded for the Dolphins’ safety, who requested a trade following speculation by many that the Dolphins are tanking for a high draft pick in 2020.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, a 2018 first-round pick out of Alabama, has 12 tackles so far this season, eight of which were solo efforts. ESPN projects him to 96 tackles this season, 64 of them solo. He is on his first NFL contract, which is worth an average of $4,111,943 a year, according to Spotrac.
The idea of parting with a first-round pick in next spring’s draft understandably bothered many Steelers fans. However, I don’t hate the idea in these circumstances.
Some are concerned about Pittsburgh limping to a poor record this season and having egg on their face when the pick they traded for Fitzpatrick ends up in the top ten. I don’t share that fear. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled my whole life and have never seen the Steelers truly lose, but I just don’t see them going 3-13, 4-12, or 5-11 to get as high a pick as some are fearing, especially with Fitzpatrick around to help harden this chronically leaky as of late defense.
The way I see it, Pittsburgh essentially gave up a first-round draft pick for a former first-round draft pick who has some NFL experience, has impressed in what NFL playing time he’s had, and is still on an affordable rookie contract. This seems like a good piece of business as Pittsburgh attempts to pick up the pieces and put something together in the 2019 season.