2022 Offseason Questions: Will Fitzpatrick Contract Talks Be Sped Up Or Slowed Down After Watt’s Precedent-Busting Deal In 2021?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Will Minkah Fitzpatrick’s contract talks be sped up or slowed down this summer thanks to T.J. Watt’s contract breaking precedents?

Arguably more remarkable for T.J. Watt last season than his NFL-record contract, perhaps even than his record-tying sack mark, was the fact that he was able to get the Steelers’ front office to break long-standing precedent about how they work contracts.

Very few players can pull this off, any they have to be truly transcendentally talented. The front office forwarded Antonio Brown a total of $6 million in the second- and third-to-last years of his contract about five years ago as a loophole to get around their precedent of not re-negotiating contracts for non-quarterbacks prior to the final year of the deal.

Last year, T.J. Watt got the Steelers to guarantee money beyond the first year of the contract for a non-quarterback. And he didn’t just get a bit guaranteed beyond year one. He got all of the first three years fully guaranteed.

Now that the Steelers budged on this, the question becomes, are the floodgates open for other great players? Will they go into negotiations with Minkah Fitzpatrick understanding that they’re going to have to offer something beyond year one—even if they don’t go as far as they did for Watt?

Or could it possibly complicate things because they won’t budge for Fitzpatrick? You already know he watched closely exactly what happened last year and that he’s going to be looking for at least three years guaranteed as a starting point.

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