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CBS Sports Lists Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick Ahead Of Bengals Jesse Bates In Top 25 Under 25 Rankings

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CBS Sports Lists Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick Ahead Of Bengals Jesse Bates In Top 25 Under 25 Rankings

The Pittsburgh Steelers were fortunate to be able to acquire safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins for a minimal return when Fitzpatrick decided he wanted out of Miami in 2019. He immediately came to the Steelers and was selected as an All-Pro in 2019, and 2020. Last season Fitzpatrick was forced to play near the line of scrimmage a lot to help stop the run, and because of that his big plays in the secondary were lacking. That hurt his chances of a return selection to the All Pro team.

Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick Robert Spillane

Photo / JSKO_PHOTO (Twitter)

Fitzpatrick’s position coach Teryl Austin was promoted to Defensive Coordinator after Keith Butler retired. With Austin manning the entire defense now look for him to scheme Fitzpatrick back into the playmaker that he was in 2019 and 2020. Along with Austin being promoted the Steelers front 7 should be a lot better in 2022 with the addition of Myles Jack, and a healthy Tyson Alualu back in the middle of the defensive front. Alualu’s absence paired with Devin Bush’s awful year forced Fitzpatrick to stick his head into the run defense. He responded with 124 tackles a career best by 44 tackles.

Now CBS Sports released their top 25 players under 25 on June 2 and only one Steeler made the list. That was Fitzpatrick. He came in at #19, one spot above Cincinnati Bengals star safety Jesse Bates. Bates is currently in a contract dispute with the Bengals and skipped all of OTA’s and other voluntary workouts this offseason.

19. Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick (25)
If Bates deserves to reset the safety market, then so does he. The former Dolphins first-rounder set such a high standard as a ballhawk immediately after coming over from Miami that his 2021 numbers (124 tackles, seven pass deflections, two INTs) registered as just OK. He is the perfect modern safety in the way he leverages his athleticism in coverage.

Fitzpatrick is in line for a big new contract this offseason. He remains the Steelers top priority and it will be Omar Khan’s first big signing as the teams new General Manager. The Steelers don’t typically get around to signing players to extensions more towards the beginning of the regular season. The beginning of the regular season is the Steelers self-appointed hard deadline for signing players to extensions.

But he isn’t taking the same path as Bates. Fitzpatrick has shown up to all of the Steelers offseason workouts and doesn’t appear to be disgruntled. He’s in a different situation that TJ Watt was last offseason. Fitzpatrick’s 5th year option will pay him 10.6 million which puts him in the top 10 for his position. Watt’s 5th year option would’ve put him around the 30th highest paid player at his position.

Bengals fans consider Bates to be better than Fitzpatrick even though his accolades consist of just one second team All-Pro selection in 2020. Former Steeler cornerback Mike Hilton who signed with the Bengals last offseason threw some shade at Fitzpatrick after joining the Bengals calling Bates a better safety than Fitzpatrick.

“He’s the best safety in the game, he just doesn’t get the respect he deserves,” Hilton said last summer. “He makes just as many plays as Minkah (Fitzpatrick), Justin Simmons, all those guys,” Hilton said. “The league is really starting to notice how much of an impact player he is.”

Anyway you cut it Bates isn’t as good as Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has more All-Pro, and Pro Bowl selections. More interceptions, more touchdowns, and more forced fumbles.

We’re glad we have the guy not causing problems during the offseason too.


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