On a day when the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their franchise quarterback to a season-ending injury, they made a bold move to find reinforcements … on the other side of the ball.
The Steelers have agreed to a deal with the Miami Dolphins for free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, according to NFL Network and ESPN reports. The trade, however, comes at a high cost.
In exchange for Fitzpatrick, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Steelers reportedly will part with a 2020 first-round pick. Also as part of the deal, the Steelers acquired Miami’s fourth-round pick in 2020 and seventh-round selection in 2021 while giving the Dolphins a fifth-rounder in 2020 and a sixth-rounder in 2021.
It is the first time since 1967 that the Steelers have traded away a first-round draft pick.
Fitzpatrick, 22, requested a trade after the Dolphins opened the season with a 59-10 loss to Baltimore. He had six tackles and a forced fumble in the Dolphins’ 43-0 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Multiple Dolphins players requested a trade as a form of protest for Miami dealing wide receiver Kenny Stills and Laremy Tunsil a week before the start of the regular season.
Fitzpatrick, a former star at Alabama, played cornerback and safety in his rookie season with the Dolphins, making 11 starts while appearing in all 16 games. He had two interceptions, including one for a 50-yard touchdown, and nine passes defensed. Most of his experience last season came as a slot cornerback.
The trade comes hours after the Steelers placed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on injured reserve with a right elbow injury that will require season-ending surgery.
The 6-foot, 207-pound Fitzpatrick likely would step into a starting role with the Steelers, who lost starter Sean Davis to a shoulder injury in their 28-26 loss Sunday to Seattle. Davis had an MRI on his shoulder.
Davis also missed the season opener at New England with an ankle contusion. He is entering the last season of his contract, and the Steelers made no attempt to extend his contract prior to the start of the regular season. With Davis out of the lineup, the Steelers turned to Kameron Kelly, a former undrafted free agent who played in the Alliance of American Football in the spring.
The Steelers have allowed 320 passing yards per game through two weeks, which ranks No. 29 among the 32 NFL teams.
Fitzpatrick’s rookie contact, worth a guaranteed $16.4 million, runs through the 2021 season.
The Steelers and Dolphins will meet Oct. 28 at Heinz Field.