Not that there was ever much doubt about it, but Minkah Fitzpatrick wanted to remain in Pittsburgh long term. And the Steelers didn’t have to think twice about obliging in order to keep a two-time All Pro safety that is just now entering his prime. Both parties, but especially Fitzpatrick, received what they sought out for when he signed a four-year contract extension worth $73.6 million, with $36 million guaranteed at signing, on Wednesday afternoon. New Steelers general manager Omar Khan felt now was the right time to make it happen, and Fitzpatrick had no reservations. Everything that he’s experienced so far with the organization gave him plenty of reason to make the extension paramount.
“Pittsburgh is a great, great organization,” Fitzpatrick said when speaking with Mike Prisuta in an an interview posted to the Steelers YouTube page. “I’ve had a lot of success the last few years—still learning, still growing. I’m comfortable, but also challenged at the same time with being here. And I think it’s a healthy environment for myself, for my family, for our future. We just wanted to get it done, wanted to get it done before camp, knock it out the way. So there was no interference in that sense in preparation. So, we’re happy, we’re blessed. We’re fortunate to have gotten it done when we did.”
Fitzpatrick’s reasoning is sound. He wanted to be a vital piece of a team that’s resetting itself, partially out of necessity, but also because it’s just the logical move in order to hopefully take a step forward with the talent they’ve acquired over the last few seasons. Sure, a new quarterback, a new general and plenty of new faces on offense can be frightening for a lot of players—but not Fitzpatrick, who is eager to a solidify his spot as one of the next Steelers greats. That speaks volumes to the culture that Pittsburgh has developed over the years.
Another factor in all of this is the potential that Fitzpatrick sees in the defense. While he’s had ample individual success already, there’s no limit to what he can do the next several years playing behind All Pros T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward, along with a few other bright, young players around him. What’s slowly become the highest paid unit in the NFL has a chance to be special in 2022, and the former Alabama star knows it.
Being the highest paid safety—for now—is going to come with high expectations. But if looking back on what he’s done the last three seasons is any indication, Fitzpatrick won’t be too concerned about that. He’ll just continue to prove the Steelers were right in providing him with a well deserved payday.