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PITTSBURGH – After just a few weeks of negotiations, the Steelers made Minkah Fitzpatrick the NFL’s highest paid security with a four-year extension worth more than $ 18.4 million a year.
Not only is Fitzpatrick, 25, the highest paid in his position, but the Steelers’ defense is among the league’s most expensive in both cash and cap value.
But that money does not motivate the defense to perform, Fitzpatrick said Thursday. Instead, it confirms the players’ duty to perform to an expected standard with such a large paycheck.
“Money is a blessing, money creates opportunities for everyone around us and in our families, but it’s more what they say with the money,” Fitzpatrick said. “They trust you to be the best and prepare to be the best and compete against the best and play A ++ on a consistent basis.
“It’s more that I’re trying to stick to it, instead of saying, ‘I got paid, so now I have to play well.’ It’s no, these guys trust me with this amount, it here responsibility, so now it’s my duty to go out there and play at a high level and show them that I deserve this compensation. “
Fitzpatrick’s deal was the first for new general manager Omar Khan, and it was completed in just a few weeks.
“That was exactly what Omar and Mr. Rooney wanted to do,” Fitzpatrick said of the timing of the contract. “They contacted a few weeks ago and said they were ready to start the negotiation process. I do not remember if we sent an offer, they sent an offer first, but we went back and forth for a while. It was here they wanted to get it done. “
The process was much faster than it was for TJ Watt, who became the highest paid pas-rusher days before the start of the regular season after contract negotiations stretched through training camp.
Although the timelines were different, the results are still largely the same.
With Watts and Fitzpatrick’s contracts, the Steelers are one of five teams with multiple defensive players earning at least $ 18 million a year in their current contract, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
In addition to hiring former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as senior defensive assistant, the Steelers’ commitment to pay defensive players in the direction of the top-dollar team and future identity signals in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. Currently, the cap value of the Steelers’ defensive contracts is almost double the cap value of the offensive players, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System.
The moves reflect those the Steelers made in 2019 when Roethlisberger went down in Week 2 with a season-ending elbow injury. A few hours after the team announced it would be without Roethlisberger, it bought Fitzpatrick from Miami for a first-round pick. For Fitzpatrick, the move signaled a desire to win, and it confirmed that the organization matched the ideals of security.
Now, three years later, the Steelers are facing a future without Roethlisberger, and they are once again turning to Fitzpatrick and the defense to lead the transition.
“What I appreciate most about this organization is the commitment to win,” Fitzpatrick said. “Everything we do, even I come here, is a commitment to win.
“It could have been a season where we lost our starting quarterback, the legendary Hall of Fame quarterback, it could have been a season where they just went and decided to stop. But they went out and bought me and bought a pair pieces other guys and said we would do what we have to do to win matches.
“If you were to win in defense, you had to win in defense. Of course it was not a perfect season, but it was a season dedicated to winning, even if it was not the best conditions to win. We went “and I feel it has set the tone for the last couple of seasons. It showed me that this program is a winning program and they will do whatever it takes to win.”