Two days after NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers are “very, very close” to getting an extension done with star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers’ insider Gerry Dulac is reporting that those extension talks haven’t even started.
Appearing on the 93.7 The Fan PM Show with co-hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller, Kinkhabwala said the extension will make Fitzpatrick the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
“And I still am told that that deal is very, very close to getting done,” Kinkhabwala said during a Monday interview on 93.7 The Fan. “So, be on alert for that.”
Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams is currently the highest-paid player in the NFL at his position at $17.5 million. The expectations are that Fitzpatrick’s deal would come in with a new money average slightly higher than that, possibly right at $18 million.
Fitzpatrick is set to earn $10.612 million in 2022 as part of his fifth-year option being picked up last offseason by the Steelers.
It’s a safe bet Fitzpatrick will have an extension signed with the Steelers by kickoff of the Week 1 matchup in 2022, but for now, those talks haven’t even started, according to Dulac, which goes directly against what Kinkhabwala is reporting.
“According to team sources, the Steelers have not even started discussions with their two-time All-Pro safety on a new deal,” Dulac writes. “And that might not happen until they find another safety to line across from him in the secondary, either in the draft or free agency.”
Dulac does report that the Steelers do intend on making Fitzpatrick the highest-paid safety in the NFL, but Pittsburgh is focused on the 2022 NFL Draft and finding a safety to start opposite the All-Pro in 2022 and beyond, whether that’s free agents Tyrann Mathieu, Keanu Neal, or Terrell Edmunds.
Dulac’s reporting lines up historically with the Steelers’ approach in general to extensions. Typically, the Steelers hammer out extensions during training camp or right before the start of the regular season, much like they did with T.J. Watt just last season, inking the All-Pro outside linebacker to a lucrative deal on September 9.
“As far as the timing goes, it would be really unusual for the Steelers to get Fitzpatrick signed to a contract extension before training camp gets underway,” Dave Bryan wrote two days ago regarding the Kinkhabwala report. “The team, by the way, doesn’t have long history of getting players signed to super-lucrative deals between April 1 and the start of training camp. There have been exceptions, however, with the last one being in 2019 when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger signed a two-year contract extension on April 24, 2019.”