The Steelers signed two-time All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to a new five-year contract. The financial terms of the deal were not released by the team.
"We are very excited to sign Minkah to a new five-year contract," said Steelers General Manager Omar Khan. "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. 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 said he is happy to have the deal done.
"I am very excited," said Fitzpatrick minutes after signing the contract. "I am still kind of in shock right now. It's a blessing. I am really excited. It's just the beginning. 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. The standard Coach (Mike) Tomlin holds us to, on the field and off the field. The standard of winning playoff games, division titles and championship games.
"I really like it here. 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 has been a mainstay for the Steelers defense since he was acquired via a trade with the Miami Dolphins following Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season.
During his time with the Steelers, he has twice been selected Associated Press First-Team All-Pro (2019, 2020) and was voted to the Pro Bowl in both of those seasons.
He has started all 46 games he has played in for the Steelers, missing just one game in 2021. For his career he has started 59 of the 64 games he played in.
Fitzpatrick has amassed 350 tackles, 237 of them solo stops, 36 passes defensed, 13 interceptions, including three returned for a touchdown, eight sacks, five tackles for a loss, five fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles in his first four seasons in the NFL.
In 2021 Fitzpatrick had his first 100 tackle season when he recorded 124 tackles to lead the Steelers, 84 of them solo stops, along with two interceptions, nine passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
"He played great football for us," said Tomlin after the 2021 season. "He was a guy who kind of tied it all together. He got challenged in unique ways because of our struggles at times and he had 120-plus tackles on the season. That's rare air for the safety position. His contributions were immense. He's a traffic cop in the middle of the field. He made all the necessary plays. You just think about the significant pass breakups that he made in significant moments. The one in Baltimore, with Hollywood Brown standing on the sideline; the one on fourth down in Cleveland a few weeks prior breaking up the ball to Jarvis Landry to secure victory for us there. He's always Johnny on the spot. He's first-team All-Pro in my book annually."
His career-high 124 tackles led all defensive backs in the NFL last season and were tied for the fifth-most by a defensive back in a single season since 2016 and most by a Steelers defensive back since 1987.
"You can't just read the coverage and expect him to be in a certain part of the field," said Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow during the 2021 season. "He does a good job of understanding where his job is and does a good job of understanding whether the route concept allows him to go to a different area. He's not always where you expect him to be. He makes a lot of plays doing that."
Fitzpatrick was consistent all throughout the 2021 season, starting it off with 10 tackles against the Buffalo Bills, one of four double-digit tackle games he had on the season.
Take a look at photographs of Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick from the 2021 season
"He's a ballhawk and one of the best safeties in the league," said Bills quarterback Josh Allen. "He switches up his style every couple plays. You don't know if he's dropping into the box or if he's trying to play over the top on something. He's always around the ball, whether it's a fumble that's forced by one of their other guys that just seems like it's popping right up into his chest. When the balls in the air he has as good of ball skills as anyone in the league. He's one of those guys that can wreck a game plan. It's always fun playing against guys with that type of caliber and putting yourself against that test."
In 2020 Fitzpatrick led the Steelers in tackles with 79, and added 11 passes defensed, four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown against Cleveland in Week 6, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He finished the season tied for seventh in the NFL in interceptions. He was rewarded for his efforts with his selection to the AP All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl.
During the 2019 season, which included 14 games in Pittsburgh and two in Miami, Fitzpatrick had five interceptions, all with the Steelers, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, while coming in and making a huge impact on the defense. Fitzpatrick recorded defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games. He had a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Colts and the following week picked up a fumble against the Rams and took it in for a 43-yard score.
Fitzpatrick was selected by the Dolphins in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the 11th overall selection. In his rookie season he played in 16 games, starting 11. He had 79 tackles, 50 of them solo stops, two interceptions, and nine passes defensed. Fitzpatrick picked off Kirk Cousins against Minnesota and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. In his time in Miami, Fitzpatrick had 90 tackles, two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
A three-year starter at Alabama, he played in 42 games, starting 38. He had 171 tackles, including 109 solo stops, four and a half sacks, nine interceptions, 35 pass defenses and two forced fumbles. He won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back his final season and became the third player in NCAA history to win both the Chuck Bednarik and Jim Thorpe Awards, joining Charles Woodson and Patrick Peterson with that honor. He was also a unanimous first-team All-American in 2017.
Fitzpatrick's Single-Game Highs:
14 vs. Tennessee Titans, Dec 19, 2021
12 at Kansas City Chiefs, Dec 26, 2021
2 vs. Baltimore Ravens, Dec 02, 2020
2 at Jacksonville Jaguars, Nov 22, 2020
1 vs. Seattle Seahawks, Oct 17, 2021
1 at Baltimore Ravens, Nov 01, 2020
1 vs. Tennessee Titans, Dec 19, 2021
1 at Dallas Cowboys, Nov 08, 2020
Tackles For Loss:
1 vs. Denver Broncos, Oct 10, 2021
1 at Cincinnati Bengals, Dec 21, 2020
2 at Jacksonville Jaguars, Nov 22, 2020
2 vs. Miami Dolphins, Oct 28, 2019
Interception Return Yards:
96 vs. Indianapolis Colts, Nov 03, 2019
50 at Minnesota Vikings, Dec 16, 2018
37 at Jacksonville Jaguars, Nov 22, 2020
33 vs. Cleveland Browns, Oct 18, 2020