PITTSBURGH – The Steelers may have a lot of questions entering the 2022 season, but the long-term status of Minkah Fitzpatrick is no longer one of them.

That’s because, on Wednesday, Fitzpatrick signed a four-year, $73.6 million contract that made him the highest-paid safety in NFL history. Fitzpatrick is now locked up through the 2026 season and will make an average of $18.4 million per year. The contract also includes $36 million in guarantees.

Fitzpatrick is arguably the best free safety in the entire NFL and he is a key part of the Steelers defense. So it makes sense as to why Fitzpatrick’s contract is as hefty as it is.

The Steelers know how valuable the fifth-year safety, so they made the smart decision and got a deal done.

The Bengals, on the other hand, have yet to do so with their own star safety in Jessie Bates III.

Granted, Bates is not as good a player as Fitzpatrick. And we don’t know if it’s him or the Bengals that are holding things up (even though the Bengals have a weird approach when it comes to how they do their contracts).

However, that doesn’t erase the fact that he does have an All-Pro name to his nod and that he turned in an excellent postseason en route to the Bengals’ appearance in Super Bowl LVI.

Bates has had a very solid career with Cincinnati, but as of right now, his future with the team is in question. It’s already been reported that he will not sign the franchise tag that was placed on him back in March. And, it’s unclear as to whether or not he holds out -or holds in- during training camp.

The Steelers took care of business and are now in much better shape than their AFC North rival, leaving the Bengals to play catch-up as the season draws closer.

And to make things even better for the Steelers and their fans: Bates’ situation with the Bengals may never get resolved, leaving the reigning AFC champs short on their quest to get back to the big game.

Featured image via Sam Greene/The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC