It may be easy to forget that Minkah Fitzpatrick is still playing on his rookie contract after the Steelers exercised his fifth-year option in late April of last year.
But the star safety just turned 25 in November, and that comes as a reminder of what the Steelers could have in the backend of their secondary for years to come.
On Monday, NFL On Prime Video ranked the Top 10 Defensive Players 25 & Under. Fitzpatrick came in at No. 8 on that list, behind Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Chase Young, A.J. Terrell, Maxx Crosby and Trevon Diggs. Rounding out the list were Chicago’s Roquan Smith and Baltimore’s Patrick Queen.
There is an argument to be made that Fitzpatrick should be higher on that list, considering he is a two-time First Team All-Pro and came in at No. 52 on the 2021 edition of the NFL’s Top 100 list.
Nonetheless, he is scheduled to make $10.612 million in 2022 as the anticipation for a second contract lingers on.
Although there have been conflicting reports over the last few days whether an extension is imminent or not, the general consensus is that the Steelers do plan on making him the highest paid safety in the NFL. There’s little doubt that he is worth more than that after coming in and drastically improving the Steelers’ secondary from the moment he was traded from Miami to Pittsburgh in 2018.
Fitzpatrick racked up 124 tackles (84 solo, 40 assisted) in 2021, which was far and away the most in his four-year career as he was forced to play more of an inside linebacker role because of the Steelers’ porous run defense. In a way, though, last season may have helped his stock even more after he showed that he can be anything the Steelers need him to be.
Seahawks’ safety Jamal Adams makes $17.5 million per year, so one would assume that Fitzpatrick’s asking price would stand at around $18 million. A deal is likely to happen later this summer.
At this point, it feels like only a matter of time before the Steelers do lock Fitzpatrick up long term. But until the Steelers feel like backing up the Brink’s Truck for him, the wait will drag on.