The Pittsburgh Steelers were in trouble early in 2019. Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks and they fell to 0-2 after a 28-26 loss. The next day instead of surrendering to a lost season, Pittsburgh made an in-season trade with the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Based on Fitzpatrick re-signing with Pittsburgh today, it is time to review the trade that brought him to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh gave up a first round pick in 2020, a fifth rounder in 2020, and a sixth in 2021. The team also received the Dolphins fourth rounder in 2020 and seventh round pick in 2021. The Dolphins had grown frustrated with Fitzpatrick who wanted to play the safety position, not a jack of all trades who also was plugged in at corner consistently by Brian Flores and his staff. The Dolphins saw an out and they took it.
Fitzpatrick joined the Steelers and started in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers and got his first interception for Pittsburgh in the game. The Steelers nearly pulled of an upset of the eventual NFC Champions, but fell 24-20. He started the next 14 games for Pittsburgh and elevated a good defense to a great defense that nearly led the team to the playoffs despite subpar play from a second and third string quarterback splitting time in the last 14 games. He was named First Team All-Pro for the 2019 season and followed that performance with another First Team All-Pro season in 2020. His play slipped a little the first few games of the 2021 season, but he finished strong and helped the team make the playoffs as an AFC Wild Card team.
Looking back at the Steelers and Dolphins trade, now that the draft picks have been made, Pittsburgh traded the rights to Austin Jackson, offensive tackle with the 18th pick overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Jason Strowbridge the 154th pick overall. The Dolphins traded the Steelers sixth round pick to acquire running back Deandre Washington (traded sixth pick with Kansas City Chiefs) and Gerrid Doaks with a seventh round pick acquired in the Washington trade. In return the Steelers got Fitzpatrick, a 2x First Team All-Pro who just signed a four-year extension with the Steelers for $73.6 million dollars, and the 135th pick overall in the 2020 draft, Kevin Dotson.
Finally, the Steelers got Tre Norwood, the 245th pick overall in the 2021 draft from Miami in the seventh round.
Miami Dolphins 2022 Draft Regrade: F
I strongly considered a D+ since they did get a starting tackle out of the trade, but the remaining players are no longer on the active roster. Jackson has started 28 games in two years for the Dolphins at tackle, but does not seem headed for a Pro Bowl anytime soon. Strowbridge appeared in eight games in 2020 and has since been released by the Dolphins. Washington appeared in three games for Miami and started one game in 2020, but he spent the 2021 season as an unsigned free agent. Doaks is currently on the Dolphins practice squad.
The Dolphins essentially traded an All-Pro and two starters to the Steelers for an offensive tackle who will have a solid NFL career based on early returns.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Draft Regrade: A
The Steelers got Fitzpatrick who is now the highest paid safety in football and will anchor the Steelers secondary for years to come. They at least matched the Dolphins’ Jackson selection with Dotson who is now a starting guard for the Steelers, and assuming he wins his camp battle against Kendrick Green, could be a starting guard for the Steelers for the foreseeable future. Norwood appeared in 17 games for the Steelers in 2021 and started three. He flashed big play ability and contributed to dime coverage packages for the Steelers all year. He is not threatening the current top three corners on the roster, but he seems a lock as a rotational piece for the 2022 defense.
Steeler Nation should be ecstatic for this trade, looking back at the past decade of number one draft picks by Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick is the second best result behind only T.J. Watt. I am a David DeCastro and Ryan Shazier fan, but I do not feel like DeCastro was quite as good as Fitzpatrick and Shazier’s career was tragically cut short. It is too early to fairly assess Najee Harris and Kenny Pickett, so for now, I am keeping him second on my list and thanking my lucky stars that the Dolphins gave up on him too soon. It will be interesting to see if Teryl Austin and Flores disagree on how to use the versatile safety in 2022.
What do you think, Steeler Nation? What is your grade for the Fitzpatrick trade? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.