It took a couple of weeks into the regular season, but the Pittsburgh Steelers did manage to keep their streak of acquiring at least one player via trade in the Summer alive with the move that was made official today, bringing 2018 first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick into the fold via the Miami Dolphins.
Fitzpatrick, an Alabama product, was the 11th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Steelers will now pair him with their own 2018 first-round safety, Terrell Edmunds. “It was not secret that we were in the market for a high-end safety”, head coach Mike Tomlin said earlier today about last year’s draft. “We did our due diligence”.
There was virtually no way the team wasn’t going to come out of that first round without a safety, and they did extensive work on that class. Add in the fact that it’s easy to spend extra time with the Crimson Tide, and it all equates to what Tomlin described as “a clean process” for himself and general manager Kevin Colbert “in terms of decision-making because we had that time with him, we did evaluate him, and we did have a great deal of comfort in his abilities”.
The Steelers have a history of targeting players in trade and free agency who are young, typically on their first contract, heading into free agency for the first time, or in Vance McDonald’s case, having just signed a new contract. Ladarius Green is another (unfortunate) example.
Fitzpatrick, however, was a player that they dealt with a lot. The Steelers sent a lot of personnel down to Tuscaloosa, attending both of Alabama’s Pro Days and having interviewed the young defensive back. “We knew it was somewhat of a pipe dream” to be able to be within reach to draft him, however, Tomlin said.
The Steelers gave up a second- and third-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to move up from 20 to 10 in the first round to be able to draft Devin Bush. Now, they were able to acquire the 11th-overall pick in the 2018 class, but it cost them a first-rounder outright in 2020. They also flipped some late-round picks over the next two years that sees them give up fifth- and sixth-rounders to get back selections in the fourth and seventh rounds in 2020 and 2020, respectively.
They had better hope that the process was clean for a reason, because they intend to start Fitzpatrick immediately, with starting free safety Sean Davis now on the Reserve/Injured List. The newcomer has no choice but to be an instant contributor, because the Steelers don’t have a choice, either.