According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network/NFL.com, the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to exercise the fifth-year option for All-Pro free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
As a result, Fitzpatrick is scheduled to earn $10.612 million in 2022, the highest level of compensation possible for a safety selected in the first round of the 2018 draft. Fitzpatrick commands the premium dollars by virtue of twice being named to the Pro Bowl, labeled first-team All-Pro in both 2019 and 2020.
The big bump in salary makes him a strong candidate to be given a contract extension in the summer of next year, which would likely result in a lower cap hit for 2022. For the moment, he remains a relative bargain, as he’s scheduled to earn a base salary of $2,722,878 in 2021 and count the same amount against the cap (as the Miami Dolphins were responsible for the prorated portion of his signing bonus).
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Fitzpatrick was drafted No. 11 overall by the Dolphins in the 2018 draft and subsequently traded to the Steelers in September 2019 for Pittsburgh’s 2020 first-round pick. Since coming to Pittsburgh he has played in 30 games, contributing 79 total tackles, with nine interceptions, 20 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
A Decision on Terrell Edmunds Awaits
Meanwhile, no news yet about Fitzpatrick’s teammate, Terrell Edmunds, 24, who was also drafted in the first round in 2018 (by the Steelers, No. 28 overall).
If the Steelers decide to pick up Edmunds’ fifth-year option (the deadline is May 3rd), it will cost them $6.573 million in 2022, much less than Fitzpatrick because he has never been voted to the Pro Bowl.
But there’s a good chance the Steelers will exercise Edmunds’ option, too, even if he isn’t likely to be awarded a contract extension before he hits unrestricted free agency following the 2022 season.
Coming into 2020, most NFL analysts regarded Edmunds as an average starting safety, if that. But he is coming off his best season to date, and it doesn’t hurt that his “best ability is availability” (as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin once put it), having played in 47 of a possible 48 regular-season games since he was drafted.
Edmunds stands to earn $1,938,789 in salary in 2021, with a salary cap number of $3,403,842.
Terrell ‘Rell Money’ Edmunds Continues to Produce New Music
You may be interested to know that Edmunds has been using some of the money he’s earned to pursue his musical dreams. In January, Terrell ‘Rell Money’ Edmunds released a video for his song “We Ride,” which is featured on a seven-album titled F1rst Quarter.
More recently, he teased the release the My Element EP, which features four tracks, including “Speaking from the Heart” and “So.”
In pursuing a musical career in the midst of his playing days, ‘Rell Money’ Edmunds is following in the footsteps of former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, not to mention Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw. In 1976 Bradshaw released the country-western album I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and followed that up with additional albums in both 1980 and 1981.