Steelers News

Minkah Fitzpatrick ‘Would Love’ To Get Extension Out Of The Way But Understands Timeline ‘Not Really On My Terms’

Minkah Fitzpatrick

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of landmarks that they want to try to hit over the course of the offseason, which for them has already begun, and effectively stretches until the start of the regular season. One of the biggest tentpoles is getting safety Minkah Fitzpatrick tied down to a long-term extension.

Those things tend to happen later rather than sooner, and really, in more recent years, they’ve gotten done later and later. T.J. Watt’s record-setting extension this past offseason came shortly before the regular season began, and he was not practicing with the team (though he was present and working off to the side on his own) during that time. Fitzpatrick’s been around long enough to understand how it goes.

It’s not really on my terms”, he told reporters when he spoke to the media last week, regarding the timing of extension talks and when a deal might get done. “I would love to get it done, just to guarantee the future and have it all done, but it’s up to the people upstairs when they want to get it done. I know there’s some things that they want to get done before they sign me—they’ve got free agency coming up and all that stuff—so, it’s up to them”.

The Steelers and Watt agreed to a four-year, $112 million contract extension on September 9 last year. They completed an extension with Cameron Heyward the year before that on September 6, but that came with far less publicity because the public was unable to see what was going on due to COVID-19 protocols. In 2019, it was Joe Haden agreeing to a two-year contract extension in September 1.

In other words, Fitzpatrick should anticipate waiting a while, especially when we’re talking about doing deal at or near the top of the market. And quite frankly, it’s unclear whether Watt’s contract last year will help speed or slow negotiations.

One of the reasons Watt’s contract negotiation was so difficult was because it required the Steelers to break long-held precedents in refusing to guarantee salary for a player beyond the first year of the deal, excepting extensions for a starting quarterback.

They gave Watt three years fully guaranteed in the end, but we shouldn’t necessarily take that as a sign of setting a new precedent, rather than making a one-time exception for a truly exceptional talent. And Fitzpatrick is one of the better free safeties in the game, but he’s not quite on the difference-making plain that his teammate is.

His agent will certainly be fighting for as many guaranteed dollars for as many years as he can get, but I’m not sure we can expect him to get much. He may get a second year guaranteed, or partially guaranteed. These sorts of deals are routine for nearly every other team in the NFL, but not something Pittsburgh has embraced.

Fitzpatrick made it no secret last year that he was closely paying attention to the negotiations between Watt’s representatives and the Steelers’ front office with self-interest in mind, saying he was “getting a feel for the organization”. When the deal was consummated, he said he was “smiling even bigger” than Watt was. We’ll see how much smiling he’ll be doing by the second week of September.

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