The Pittsburgh Steelers finally came to terms on a deal for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Here’s why he’s now the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
That didn’t take long. Just days after Pittsburgh’s mandatory minicamp ended, the organization finalized a contract extension with Minkah Fitzpatrick. Unlike T.J. Watt last summer, the Steelers safety earned his bag long before training camp opened in the final year of his contract.
According to Adam Schefter, Fitzpatrick’s deal is a four-year extension worth over $18.4 million per season and with $36 million guaranteed. This new contract makes him the highest-paid safety in the history of the NFL — surpassing the numbers previously held by Seattle’s Jamal Adams.
Just before this, I predicted that Fitzpatrick would earn a 5-year extension worth $90 million ($18.0M per year). I wasn’t too far off. While anything over $17.5 million in yearly value would have made him the highest-paid safety in the league, Steelers came in at a generous $18.4M per year.
Minkah’s $36 million in total guarantees come in just below Adams as well as Marcus Williams — who received his deal with the Ravens this offseason. However, Fitzpatrick’s slightly shorter contract means more guarantees in a shorter amount of time.
Fitzpatrick has taken some criticism for having a down season in 2021. While he didn’t produce the same amount of takeaways, he did come away with some crucial pass defenses in key moments and improved down the stretch.
At just 25 years old, it’s very reasonable to expect him to return to his All-Pro form. Here’s a look at some of his accolades and numbers early in his career, via Pro Football Reference:
The Steelers now have two massive extensions taken care of over the past two summers. This means that Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt will be roaming the field together for the foreseeable future.
Pittsburgh now has two of their most important players locked up for the future. So who’s next in line to get paid?
Steelers could sign Johnson soon
At the way things are moving, I would not be surprised to see the Pittsburgh Steelers try to get a deal done with Diontae Johnson prior to the start of training camp. Johnson doesn’t have the All-Pro accolades like Minkah, but he is a valuable player to this football team.
However, drafting two receivers with their first four picks this year makes it a bit more difficult to predict what the Steelers will do with him. The only receivers who made it to second contracts under Kevin Colbert were Hines Ward and Antonio Brown. Players like Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Emmanuel Sanders, and Mike Wallace each found homes with new teams after their rookie deals (and fifth-year option in Burress’s case).
With no other veteran receivers on the team, it will be interesting to see if the Steelers try to throw money at Johnson right away or if they elect to and press their luck and wait until after the season. There are advantages to doing the latter.
Fans can at least breathe a sigh of relief now that Minkah Fitzpatrick will remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers for years to come. The former All-Pro safety doesn’t come cheap, but we have seen how good he can be. Let’s hope he has his best season yet in 2022.