(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Minkah Fitzpatrick has been named first-team All-Pro in the last two seasons since the Steelers acquired him in a trade with the Dolphins in September of 2019. He's been everything the Steelers had hoped for. His presence in the back end and ball hawk playmaking abilities has done wonders for the defense.
Since arriving to Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick has recorded nine interceptions, 20 passes defended and three defensive touchdowns. Fitzpatrick allowed the lowest completion percentage (45.5%) in the NFL last season, per Next Gen Stats (min. 30 targets). His ballhawk rate (the percentage of targets where the nearest defender made a pass defensed or interception) of 33.3 percent ranked third in the league.
At only 24 years old, Fitzpatrick has established himself as one of the best safeties in the NFL, so it was fitting that ESPN's survey from 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players ranked Fitzpatrick has the best safety in the league.
“Most complete safety in the game,” an anonymous league executive said about Fitzpatrick. “Elite instincts, athleticism, processor, field vision, positional flexibility, production in deep part of the field, [and] can cover man-to-man. Can do it all.”
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores tried to play Fitzpatrick in too many different positions in Miami, which was the root cause to Fitzpatrick wanting out. For the most part, the Steelers have just played Fitzpatrick back at free safety, a position that he prefers.
“It’s his instincts, and he’s finally comfortable — they are playing him in the right spot,” an NFC coach said about Fitzpatrick. “He studies, he knows first and second reads, and his return ability is elite.”
In March, Justin Simmons signed a four-year, $61 million contract with the Broncos that included $35 million guaranteed. The new deal made him the highest-paid safety in the league, averaging $15.25 million per year. Fitzpatrick should cash in on a big deal after this season and surpass Simmons as the highest-paid safety. Simmons ranked No. 2 in ESPN's safety rankings.
Fitzpatrick had the highest ranking among Steelers players in ESPN's survey when compiling the top 10 players at 11 different positions. T.J. Watt ranked second among edge rushers and Cameron Heyward ranked fourth and Stephon Tuitt came in at No. 8 among interior defensive lineman.