PITTSBURGH (AP) — Minkah Fitzpatrick is staying in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers signed their star safety to a five-year contract on Wednesday. Financial details were not released. NFL Network reported the deal is worth $73.6 million, which would make him the highest-paid safety in the league.
The 25-year-old Fitzpatrick was ready to enter the final year of his rookie contract. He has been spectacular at times since arriving in Pittsburgh in a trade with Miami in September 2019 and was selected to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team in each of his first two seasons with the Steelers.
Fitzpatrick said in a release he was “shocked” and “excited” as he enters the prime of his career.
“It’s just the beginning,” Fitzpatrick said. “I am appreciative. I am thankful. Now I just want to keep on chopping. I love the history here. What it stands for. The standard we are held to.”
Fitzpatrick's deal gives Pittsburgh's defense three pillars to build around as it begins the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. The Steelers signed reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt to a mega-contract last summer and veteran All-Pro defensive end Cam Heyward is entering his 12th season with the club.
“Minkah is one of the top safeties in the NFL and we are thrilled he will be in Pittsburgh through at least the next five years,” Steelers general manager Omar Khan said in a statement. "When we traded for him, we knew he was going to be an integral part of our defense and we look forward to that continuing as we prepare for the upcoming season.”
Fitzpatrick participated in the team's offseason program, but declined to do any 11-on-11 work, a decision that Watt made last year while his deal was being negotiated. Watt's contract wasn't finalized until the eve of the regular season. Getting Fitzpatrick done now removes any potential distractions for him as the team prepares to return to training camp at Saint Vincent College in late July.
“I really like it here," Fitzpatrick said. "I have been playing well the last three seasons, at a high level. I love the atmosphere, the coaching, the tradition. Being able to continue that for the next few years is definitely a blessing.”
Fitzpatrick is coming off a solid 2021 in which he had a career-best 124 tackles — the most by a defensive back in the league — to go with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He's been remarkably durable with the Steelers, missing just one game in three seasons while playing 99% of the defensive snaps.
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