Pittsburgh announced on Wednesday that they signed safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to a four-year extension worth $18.4 million per year. The deal includes $36 million guaranteed at signing (terms of the deal per ESPN’s Adam Schefter).
Fitzpatrick is now the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
Done deal. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/mLsThSrdhg— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2022
Locking up Fitzpatrick for the next several years is obviously a big deal for the Steelers. The former Alabama star is one of the league’s best defensive players — the type of player that good franchises don’t let get away. Pittsburgh was wise to get this deal done early in the summer before it could potentially become an issue.
The Bengals probably weren’t too happy to see this deal get done. Not only does it mean that Fitzpatrick will remain in the division for at least the next half-decade, but it also puts more pressure on Cincinnati to work out a deal with safety Jessie Bates.
Cincy has been trying to work out an extension with Bates since last summer, but little to no progress has been made.
As a result, Bates isn’t reporting to workouts as he looks for a new deal. He hasn’t signed his franchise tender yet, either.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow publicly endorsed Bates this week, but that doesn’t mean Cincinnati’s front office is going to give the talented safety a new deal.
A big public endorsement from the face of the franchise is all that was missing from the Jessie Bates saga and it seems like we now have it. pic.twitter.com/18JDcXtztY— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrison) June 14, 2022
The Bengals weren’t making progress before Fitzpatrick’s deal. Now it’s going to be even tougher since his price point has likely gone up (due to the Fitzpatrick deal).
At this point, it’s hard to see Bates signing a long-term deal to stay in Cincy. A trade is the most likely outcome.
Losing Bates isn’t ideal. It’s even less ideal now that Pittsburgh has committed a lot of cash to Fitzpatrick. The Bengals need to pay Bates. He’s an important part of the defense and he won’t be easily replaced. I know Cincy has several players that will be looking at rich extensions in the coming years (Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase), but they still need to find a way to keep Bates in a Bengals uniform for the foreseeable future.
Featured image via USA TODAY Sports