Minkah Fitzpatrick

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Minkah Fitzpatrick
refer to caption
Fitzpatrick in 2019
No. 39 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Safety
Personal information
Born: (1996-11-17) November 17, 1996 (age 27)
Old Bridge, New Jersey, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:207 lb (94 kg)
Career information
High school:St. Peter's Prep
(Jersey City, New Jersey)
College:Alabama (2015–2017)
NFL draft:2018 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2023
Total tackles:512
Forced fumbles:4
Fumble recoveries:5
Pass deflections:50
Interceptions:19
Defensive touchdowns:5
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Minkah Annane Fitzpatrick Jr. (born November 17, 1996)[1] is an American football safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide, and was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft before being traded to the Steelers during the 2019 season.

Early years

Fitzpatrick attended St. Peter's Preparatory School in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he played high school football for the Marauders.[2] He was a wide receiver on offense and a defensive back on defense. In 2014, he caught 45 passes for 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns, while recording 70 tackles and three interceptions on defense. He also ran track. He placed first at the Hudson County Championships with times of 10.86 seconds and 21.66 seconds in the 100 and 200 meters, respectively.[3]

Considered a five-star recruit by ESPN.com, Fitzpatrick was listed as the No. 4 cornerback in the nation in 2015.[4]

Fitzpatrick signed with Alabama at the 2015 National Signing Day,[5] after being verbally committed for almost a year.[6]

College career

Fitzpatrick in January 2018

As a true freshman in 2015, Fitzpatrick started 10 of 14 games, missing one game due to injury. He recorded 45 total tackles, with three for a loss, two sacks, two interceptions (both returned for scores), 11 pass breakups, one quarterback hurry, and one punt return for a touchdown.[7] He was part of the Alabama team that won the national championship over Clemson.[8] He was named a Freshman All-American by The Sporting News after Alabama's championship season.[9]

In his sophomore season in 2016, Fitzpatrick returned an interception 100 yards in a 49–30 win over then-16th ranked Arkansas.[2] The interception broke the Alabama Crimson Tide record for longest interception returned for a touchdown. In that same game, he tied the Alabama records for most interceptions in a game (3), and career interceptions returned for a touchdown (4). In the 2016 SEC Championship Game against Florida, Fitzpatrick broke the Alabama all-time record for career interceptions returned for a touchdown (4).[10] He was named as a consensus All-American for 2016.[11]

In his junior season in 2017, Fitzpatrick recorded 60 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and seven passes defensed.[12] He won his second national championship as the Crimson Tide defeated Georgia 26–23 in overtime.[13] He won the Chuck Bednarik Award and Jim Thorpe Award.[14][15] He earned consensus All-American honors for the second consecutive season.[16]

College statistics

Legend
CFP national champion
Bold Career high
Alabama Crimson Tide
Season Team GP Tackles Interceptions
Cmb Solo Ast Sck Int Yds Avg TD PD
2015 Alabama 14 45 30 15 2.0 2 88 44.0 2 10
2016 Alabama 15 66 42 24 1.5 6 186 31.0 2 7
2017 Alabama 13 60 38 22 1.5 1 0 0.0 0 7
Career 42 171 110 61 5.0 9 274 30.4 4 24

Professional career

Pre-draft

On January 11, 2018, Fitzpatrick announced his decision to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2018 NFL draft.[17] Fitzpatrick attended the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and completed the majority of combine drills, but opted to skip the short shuttle and three-cone drill. On March 7, 2018, Fitzpatrick participated at Alabama's pro day, but opted to stand on his combine numbers and only performed the short shuttle, three-cone drill, and positional drills.

External videos
video icon Minkah Fitzpatrick's NFL Combine Workout
video icon Minkah Fitzpatrick's 40-yard dash

Fitzpatrick attended pre-draft visits with the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and San Francisco 49ers. His versatility allowed him to possibly play safety or cornerback as a professional, but Fitzpatrick expressed his desire to primarily play cornerback to multiple teams.[18] NFL analyst Mel Kiper Jr. stated Fitzpatrick may experience a slide in the draft due to not having a defined role.[19] At the conclusion of the pre-draft process, Fitzpatrick was projected to be a first round pick by NFL draft experts and scouts. He was expected to be drafted within the top 15 selections. Fitzpatrick was ranked as the top cornerback prospect in the draft by DraftScout.com and was ranked as the top safety prospect by Sports Illustrated and NFL analyst Mike Mayock.[20][21]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 0+18 in
(1.83 m)
204 lb
(93 kg)
31+14 in
(0.79 m)
9+38 in
(0.24 m)
4.46 s 1.52 s 2.58 s 4.13 s 6.73 s 33 in
(0.84 m)
10 ft 1 in
(3.07 m)
14 reps
All values from NFL draft[22][23]

Miami Dolphins

2018

The Miami Dolphins selected Fitzpatrick in the first round with the 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft.[24] Fitzpatrick was the first safety drafted in 2018.[25]

External videos
video icon Dolphins draft Fitzpatrick 11th overall
video icon NFL Draft Profile: Minkah Fitzpatrick

On June 1, 2018, the Miami Dolphins signed Fitzpatrick to a fully guaranteed four-year, $16.4 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $10.04 million.[26][27]

During training camp, Fitzpatrick competed against T. J. McDonald to be the starting free safety. He learned both safety positions and primarily ran with the second team.[28] Head coach Adam Gase named Fitzpatrick the primary backup safety to begin the regular season, behind starters McDonald and Reshad Jones.

External videos
video icon Fitzpatrick grabs first career INT off Tom Brady

He made his professional regular season debut in the Dolphins’ season-opener against the Tennessee Titans, recording six combined tackles as well as breaking up a pass, in their 27–20 victory.[29] On September 23, Fitzpatrick earned his first career start after Jones was declared inactive due to a shoulder injury.[30] He recorded ten combined tackles (two solo) during their 28–20 victory against the Oakland Raiders in Week 3. The following week, he collected ten combined tackles (four solo), two pass deflections, and made his first career interception, in the Dolphins’ 38–7 loss to the New England Patriots.[31] Fitzpatrick made his first career interception off quarterback Tom Brady in the fourth quarter on a pass intended for Patriots' wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, and returned it for a 14-yard gain.[32] During a Week 15 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, Fitzpatrick intercepted a pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins, returning it 50 yards for a touchdown.[33] It was the second interception and first pick-six of his career.[34] He finished his rookie season with 80 total tackles (51 solo), two interceptions, and nine passes defended.[35]

2019

In Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens, Fitzpatrick made six tackles as the Dolphins lost 59–10.[36] After the game, Fitzpatrick requested to be traded because he felt like he was playing out of position and he did not like how the coaches were utilizing him.[37] In Week 2 against the Patriots, Fitzpatrick made six tackles and recovered a fumble by running back Sony Michel in their 43–0 loss.[38]

Pittsburgh Steelers

Fitzpatrick in a game against the Cleveland Browns
Fitzpatrick at the 2020 Pro Bowl

On September 16, 2019, the Dolphins traded Fitzpatrick, along with their 2020 fourth round (Kevin Dotson) and 2021 seventh round (Tre Norwood) draft picks, to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In exchange, they received the Steelers' 2020 first round (Austin Jackson), 2020 fifth round (Jason Strowbridge), and 2021 sixth round (eventually traded to the New York Jets, the Jets selected Jonathan Marshall) draft picks.[39] Fitzpatrick made his debut with the Steelers in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers, in which he intercepted a pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and forced a fumble off 49ers running back Raheem Mostert in their 24–20 loss.[40] In Week 8 against his former team, the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick intercepted former teammate and quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, twice in their 27–14 win.[41] In Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts, Fitzpatrick intercepted a pass thrown by quarterback Brian Hoyer and returned it for a 96-yard touchdown in their 26–24 win.[42] Fitzpatrick's pick-six was the third longest interception return for a touchdown in franchise history, as well as the second longest in the regular season. In Week 10 against the Los Angeles Rams, Fitzpatrick recovered a strip sack forced by teammate, DT Javon Hargrave, on quarterback Jared Goff, which he returned for a 43-yard touchdown. He later intercepted a pass thrown by Goff with under a minute left in the game, sealing a 17–12 Steelers win.[43][44] In Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Fitzpatrick recorded six tackles and recovered a fumble forced by teammate, LB Devin Bush, on wide receiver Tyler Boyd, and returned the ball for 36 yards in their 16–10 win.[45] He finished the 2019 season with 69 total tackles (44 solo), five interceptions, nine passes defended, and two forced fumbles.[46] He was ranked 35th by his fellow players in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2020.[47]

2020

In Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns, Fitzpatrick recorded his first interception of the season off a pass thrown by Baker Mayfield and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown during the 38–7 win.[48] In Week 8 against the Ravens, Fitzpatrick forced a fumble on quarterback Lamar Jackson which was recovered by teammate Robert Spillane and later broke up a pass thrown by Jackson in the endzone with no time left on the clock to secure a 28–24 Steelers' victory.[49] In Week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys, Fitzpatrick recovered a fumble forced by teammate Cameron Sutton on CeeDee Lamb, intercepted a pass thrown by Garrett Gilbert and broke up another Hail Mary pass thrown by Gilbert late in the fourth quarter to secure a 24–19 Steelers’ win. [50] In Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fitzpatrick recorded two interceptions off passes thrown by quarterback Jake Luton, propelling the Steelers to a 27–3 victory and their first 10–0 start in franchise history.[51][52] He finished the 2020 season with 79 total tackles (60 solo), four interceptions, 11 passes defended, and one forced fumble.[53] He was ranked 52nd by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2021.[54]

2021

On April 27, 2021, the Steelers picked up the fifth-year option on Fitzpatrick's contract, worth a guaranteed $10.612 million for the 2022 season.[55][56] On November 15, Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 and was put on the Steelers' Reserve-COVID list.[57] Despite this, he only missed one game. In the 2021 season, he appeared in and started 16 games. He finished with 124 total tackles (84 solo), two interceptions, seven passes defended, and one forced fumble.[58]

2022

On June 16, 2022, the Steelers signed Fitzpatrick to a four-year $73.6 million contract extension, including $36 million in guaranteed money. With an annual salary of $18.4 million, he became the highest paid safety in the NFL at the time, later being surpassed by Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers.[59][60]

In Week 1 against the Bengals, Fitzpatrick made a pick-six off of quarterback Joe Burrow and blocked a game-winning extra point off of kicker Evan McPherson, as the Steelers went on to win 23–20 in overtime.[61] His performance earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week.[62] In the 2022 season, he finished with 96 total tackles (56 solo), six interceptions and 11 passes defended, in 15 games with 15 starts.[63] He was named as a first team All-Pro and earned Pro Bowl honors.[64][65] He was named the 2024 Bart Starr Award winner for his contributions on and off the field.[66]

NFL career statistics

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular season

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Cmb Solo Ast Sck PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR TD
2018 MIA 16 11 80 51 29 0.0 9 2 64 32.0 50T 1 0 0 0
2019 MIA 2 2 12 8 4 0.0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1 0
PIT 14 14 57 36 21 0.0 9 5 130 26.0 96T 1 1 2 1
2020 PIT 16 16 79 60 19 0.0 11 4 70 17.5 37 1 1 1 0
2021 PIT 16 16 124 84 40 0.0 7 2 18 9.0 18 0 1 1 0
2022 PIT 15 15 96 56 40 0.0 11 6 94 15.7 34 1 0 0 0
2023 PIT 10 10 64 43 21 0.0 3 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0
Career 89 84 512 338 174 0.0 50 19 383 20.2 96T 4 4 5 1

Personal life

Fitzpatrick is a Christian.[67][68]

References

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External links