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Berger: Minkah Fitzpatrick Worth Every Penny of Big Contract



Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick signed a four-year, $73.6 million contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in June. During Sunday’s overtime, season-opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Fitzpatrick showed he is worth every penny.

Fitzpatrick began the season with a bang, as he jumped a Joe Burrow pass and returned it 32 yards to the house to give Pittsburgh an early 7-0 lead.

It’s rare for a pick-six to serve as the secondmost significant play from a defensive player in a given game, but this is Fitzpatrick we’re talking about. His encore was the game-saving blocked field goal in the waning moments that ultimately allowed the game to go to overtime, where the Steelers prevailed.

With that, Fitzpatrick became the first player in NFL history to record a pick-six and blocked field goal in the same game.

Sandwiched between those splash plays were a couple of bone-shattering hits and a team-high 14 tackles to boot.

With that type of payday comes an expectation of greatness, and Fitzpatrick was undeniably great Sunday. That performance was not only a display of why Fitzpatrick deserved to become the highest-paid safety in NFL history at the time of his extension but also a reminder of how well-rounded a player he has become.

“Minkah is a complete player,” defensive end Cam Heyward said following Sunday’s win. “A lot of people sleep on Mink and what he’s capable of doing, whether that’s being a box safety or being a ballhawk, or even blocking kicks.”

Fitzpatrick alone has 19 takeaways in less than five years. Some defenses don’t generate or barely generate that many in an entire season as a unit combined. In 2021, the Lions and Commanders tied for the fewest takeaways with –– get this –– 19.

“Everybody respects that dude not only in terms of his talents and work ethic but his leadership,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of Fitzpatrick.

Setting aside the game-changing nature of the turnovers he creates, Fitzpatrick has grown into a thumper and sure tackler, too.

Not only does the contract look like a bargain in hindsight, but the initial trade with the Miami Dolphins that brought Fitzpatrick to the Steelers increasingly looks more like one of the most lopsided deals in recent history. 

And with the news that T.J. Watt will be missing time with his pectoral injury, Pittsburgh will need to rely on Fitzpatrick’s playmaking ability more than ever.

If his performance Sunday is any indication, I’d say Fitzpatrick is more than up to the task.

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