The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely seek to address a contract extension with star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick this offseason, but “won’t be rush” into a deal, according to a report on Monday by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
Fitzpatrick is playing out the 2022 season under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract and will become a free agent next March if the Steelers are unable to secure an extension with him in the meantime.
Fowler reports that Fitzpatrick will likely be looking for a contract in the neighborhood of the $17.5 million per year that Jamal Adams got from the Seattle Seahawks.
Fitzpatrick has been a two-time All-Pro selection since joining the Steelers via trade early in the 2019 season. He led the team in tackles in 2021.
It seems likely that the Steelers will look to sign Fitzpatrick this offseason, but part of the uncertainly is that the team has not yet selected a replacement for general manager Kevin Colbert, who stepped down following the 2022 NFL Draft.
It’s also not clear how a new GM might operate differently than Colbert has. Under Colbert, the Steelers did not negotiate contract extensions during the Steelers and were reticent to give out contract guarantees beyond signing bonuses, though they did give guarantees to T.J. Watt in 2021.
That contract negotiation went all the way down to the wire of the regular season, and the Steelers could be looking at another lengthy process when it comes to Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick’s fifth-year option is for $10.612 million for the 2022 season. The Steelers could use an extension to reduce his cap hit this season, though for now, they seem to have plenty of salary cap space.
Signing Fitzpatrick to a long-term contract could be the first step to shore up an uncertain future situation in the secondary. Of all of the Steelers defensive backs with NFL experience, only second-year former seventh-round draft pick Tre Norwood is signed beyond the 2023 season.